Every year observant Jews came from all lands, having been scattered over the centuries by the conquest of Gentile rulers, to perform their covenant-duty to sacrifice and remember the Passover (See Deut. 4.9 & Deut. 16:5-6). This was a difficult covenant to observe: the travel, the need to bring the sacrifice, and the currency conversions necessary. However, this also created an opportunity for the entrepreneurial among them. It wasn’t long before the Pharisees and teachers of the law began to exploit their faithful brethren by “retailing” in the temple area, and from there, skimming. Finally in outright collusion with the Levite Priests declaring the sacrifices “flawed” so the people were required to buy from their vendors. They had clearly lost sight of the meaning of the Passover, burdening faithful Jews with bureaucracy, confusion, and using fear to discourage many from challenging the “System”.
What may have once been an honest attempt to meet a legitimate need, soon became a means to profit unjustly – to use God’s commands for profit.
Sometimes we also lose sight of propriety as we labor to make our mark in the world.
Jesus would not tolerate such manipulation and corruption. This was the second time in His three-year ministry when He “cleansed the Temple” (See John 2:13-16).
Was Jesus condemning those who were meeting a legitimate need?
Was Jesus condemning entrepreneurship?
Jesus was exposing corruption – the systematic manipulation of God’s righteous commands for their own profit – causing great hardship for those who simply wished to obey God.
You may have noticed that the Passover is no longer observed with a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem or with sacrifices. Today Jews observe the Passover in a modified way – the Temple was eventually destroyed in A.D. 70.
Think about the way you earn money. Does it involve price-gouging others for a government-required service? Does it manipulate others’ religious convictions or their ignorance of some law or requirement? Just because it’s what everyone else does, does not make it right. Jesus brought wrath upon Himself for taking a stand(Mark 11:18). Your “wrath” may only be the loss of a few extra dollars or at worst, a career change. But your reward in heaven will be great. Carefully consider how you make money. Would Jesus overturn your tables? Would He drive you out of His Father’s Temple?