John 2:13-25 What Happened in Jerusalem?

13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

What Happened in Jerusalem?

How many times did Jesus go up to Jerusalem?  The synoptic gospels paint a picture where Jerusalem is far from the action for much of the book.  Jesus eventually is called to the centre of Jewish power and it kills him.  However, John has Jesus visiting Jerusalem fairly early in his ministry.  Did he drive out the traders in the temple once or twice?  I would say that Jesus went to Jerusalem throughout his ministry and he made grand gestures there.  This would explain more easily why people from Judea are coming to Galilee to check into him.  Jesus did not drive out the money changers and the animals in the temple courts because he expected them to stay out.  Jesus was making a symbolic gesture.  He was stating that the system in Jerusalem was corrupt and that the Jewish sacrificial system itself would be overturned and replaced.  His life and death would in reality overturn what he overturned symbolically.  I believe he did this more than once to drive the message home.  He did it early in his ministry, as we read here in John, and he did it again the day after Palm Sunday. 

The question of signs is raised again and therefore a link is made between the signs and authority in this context.  A sign would point to authority, Jesus produces no sign that the priests are aware of and so in their view he has no authority.  However, he foreshadows his death and points to it as the ultimate sign.  It is by their acceptance or denial of his sacrificial death that they will be judged, not by their reliance on a well-oiled sacrificial system that had become corrupt.

Finally, we have Jesus’ assessment of mankind.  He doesn’t share the wild optimism of today’s humanism.  He doesn’t think that deep down everyone is good. He thinks that mankind is corrupt and so he does not trust himself to be lifted up by them.


Jesus, you seem both confident and isolated at this time.  Your own sanctity sets you apart from the religious masses.  The people were following rules and a system, but the system was killing the spiritual heart of your chosen people.  I feel there are parallels today.  We have those who are very casual about you and don’t really follow you with fervour.  However, I am more often among those who condemn each other for falling short and set up neat systems of discipleship or condemn others for not reading the Bible correctly.  We do so much still to prove that we are alright apart from a dynamic relationship with you, however we only find rest when we rest in you.


  1. What does Jesus do in this passage?
  2. How many times did Jesus visit Jerusalem and wreck the trading for the day?
  3. What was his point?
  4. How do people develop little systems in the name of Christianity that bypass their daily need for the cross?
  5. How does Jesus overturn the tables of those whose lives have been ease and comfort?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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20 Responses to John 2:13-25 What Happened in Jerusalem?

  1. 1) Jesus drives out those who were trading and selling in His temple — all those who were not in the Temple for the right reason.
    2) Once
    3) His house was to hold prayer and worship, not stealing and deceptive trading.
    4) When believers are putting themselves at the center of their lives, then we lose focus on who we are about. When we get distracted by our self life, we do not take up our cross hourly.
    5) At some point, Jesus always brings His own to a place of absolute need of Him through a job loss, illness, death, hunger, loneliness. He will do whatever He wants to get your attention.

  2. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    1. What does Jesus do in this passage?
    He goes to Jerusalem for the Passover and drives out all the animals and money-changers for making house not one of worship.
    2. How many times did Jesus visit Jerusalem and wreck the trading for the day?
    He does it once now and once during the Passion week.
    3. What was his point?
    He was showing how corrupt the hearts of the religious rulers were and also showing the new covenant to be found in Him, not in the temple.
    4. How do people develop little systems in the name of Christianity that bypass their daily need for the cross?
    Our long sessions of prayer and helping at homeless shelter are examples of things we do try show our personal worthiness. We lack a true understanding of our sinful nature and the perfect nature of Christ.
    5. How does Jesus overturn the tables of those whose lives have been ease and comfort?
    For the unbeliever he brings his wrath and judgment. For the believer, he disciplines them in love, so that they may grow in a dependence upon Him.

  3. Kathleen says:

    1. Jesus drove out the money-changers and people selling things in the temple.
    2. Jesus is recorded doing this twice.
    3. He was showing that the sacrificial system would be replaced. He also wanted people to understand that the temple was a place for worship, not a market place.
    4. I think this happens to us today when we get stuck in routines. When our minds become closed to change, it can lead to legalism.
    5. Through events and circumstances in our lives, Jesus brings us back to Himself. I feel this often comes in some form of tragedy: death, job loss, etc. We come to a point where we realize we can’t make it on our own.

  4. Karas says:

    Jesus stood up against the abuse of God’s house and confronted the people with their sin. He turned over the tables and drove the money changers out. I had not realized that this account in John is at a different time than the accounts in the other gospels, but Prof Worrall’s suggestion that Jesus did this more than once makes sense. The Bible seems to record two times. Jesus did this to show that what they were doing was wrong and that He was pointing it out, rightfully judging them because He was God. They were misusing the system God had set in place and were sinful. We as people are quick to bypass our need for the cross by thinking we are safe just because we prayed a salvation prayer and are not as bad as the next person. We may go to church and feel good about ourselves but not actually live out and share the gospel. Jesus can bring difficulties into our lives to move us out of our comfort zones. He can convict us, open our eyes, and just show us our sinfulness. He is so good about not letting us stay where we are at, but moving us to the next step.

  5. Mary says:

    1. Jesus drove the money changers’ animals out of the temple courtyard, threw their coins, and knocked their tables over and told them to get their stuff out of there.
    2. This appears to be the second time Jesus has done this. The first time is recorded in Mt. 21:12-17; Mk. 11:12-19; and Lk. 19:45-48.
    3. Jesus was furious that those people were trying to make a profit off the other people who were coming there to worship.
    4. Pretty much everything we do that starts with good intentions of being an act of worship or service to God can turn into nothing more than just an act or routine (maybe the intentions of the money changers started off as good, and they got greedy, or decided to make a profit for other reasons). This is something I try to evaluate from time to time in my own life, because I can get very caught up in serving in a variety of great ministries that my church has to offer, or I often get asked to do things because they know there is a good chance I will say yes. I have had to learn to say NO. It is more important for my to do one or two ministries very well than to do a bunch of ministries half-heartedly. It is also important for me to remind myself regularly why I am involved in that ministry, to pray regularly for the students I work with, pray at the start of each night dedicating it to God, build relationships and have intentional conversations with specific students each week, reflect/pray about the ministry throughout the week, etc. These are just some of the tings I do to keep myself focused on keeping my “activity” worshipful. Otherwise it will become nothing more than just activity, then what’s the point?
    5. Struggle and discomfort… “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom 5:3-5).

  6. Jenna says:

    1. Jesus clears the temple, then when questioned about His authority, He predicts His death.
    2. Probably at least twice, but it may have been more times, as Jews went to Jerusalem twice a year for feasts.
    3. Jesus’ point was that the temple was supposed to be a place to come before God, not to buy and sell things, and that the Law and its way of becoming right with God was about to end.
    4. Sometimes we think that our discipleship models or accountability will keep our behavior in check without having to daily rely on God for anything good within us. We play the comparison game with our quiet times, our prayer life, our service, and our devotion to God.
    5. Sometimes, Jesus has to get ahold of us by allowing us to suffer – it can take many forms, but the proper result is always repentance and renewed reliance on Jesus.

  7. Lacy says:

    1. Jesus drives out merchants who were doing corrupt business in the temple.
    2. Though we don’t know for sure, Scripture suggests that Jesus purged the temple in this way at least twice– once at the beginning and once at the end of his ministry.
    3. Jesus was condemning the empty ritualism and corruption that had replaced the Jews’ relationship with God. His actions foreshadowed a time when the sacrificial system would become obsolete and his body would be the temple, the means of fellowship with God. Also, the area where the merchants were trading was an area on the outer rims of the temple where the Gentiles could worship God, and by using this area for merchandise the Jews were barring the Gentiles from access to God. Jesus was fighting for both Jews and non-Jews to have free access to God.
    4. Many believers (myself included) are all too prone to creating rituals and rules for themselves that make them feel good about themselves and look good to others, thus cramming “plugging their ears” to their need for Christ.
    5. Jesus has many ways of pulling his people out of ease and complacency, usually involving discomfort or dissatisfaction that points the way to himself.

  8. Rachel says:

    In this passage, Jesus drives out the money changers in the temple, making a huge scene and declaring that this was not how his Father’s house should be! This may have happened more than two times; it happened enough times for Jesus to make his point: religion is not about transactional systems! True religion is knowing God and allowing his life to flow from your open arms. Jesus is taking a firm stand against the legalistic systems that had replaced true relationship with him. People had pushed him away by creating their own definitions of religion and, in doing so, rejected the very message of the cross. Jesus is fighting back for the hearts of those whom he loves. He is not afraid to shake things up if that is what it takes to draw his sheep back to their Good Shepherd.

  9. zacbodine says:

    What does Jesus do in this passage?
    Jesus shows fervor for his Father’s house by driving out people who were taking advantage of the temple by using it as a mini mall.

    How many times did Jesus visit Jerusalem and wreck the trading for the day?
    According to this post he visited several times and wrecked trade twice.

    What was his point?
    His point was to expose what the people have turned the house of God into. He wants to show people this is the house of God not a place to grow your own wealth.

    How do people develop little systems in the name of Christianity that bypass their daily need for the cross?
    I do it all the time by not allowing God to enter into his temple (me). I hide away in shiny things like books, art, movies, abstract theologies, and music. I go to church not prepared to worship but to buy a story. Lord forgive me for what I have done. He convicts violently what wants to stay untouched, unspoken, and undiscovered. He sees what hides in plain sight and flips it.

  10. nataliaria says:

    In this passage, Jesus rather dramatically removes from the temple court those who had turned it into a non-sacred space. I believe that Jesus did this twice, and Dr. Peterman’s John class and the devotional commentary above seem to verify this. I believe that Jesus’ motivation in clearing the temple court of the money changers and vendors was to draw attention to the broken nature of the Jewish religion at that time, as well as provide a kind of preview of the New Covenant, which He would bring about through the sacrifice of His own temple: His body.

    I myself find it very tempting to create ways in which I feel I can assure my “spirituality” without the cross. I do this in a kind of “pull myself up by the bootstraps” mentality, wherein I can improve myself, and bring myself closer to Christ through my own great choices and quality performance. But in the end, this pushes my heart further away from His grace and mercy, and often threatens to harder my own heart with the sheer effort of saving myself.

    Jesus overturns the tables of lives in many different ways; calling them to sacrifice, removing physical blessings from them, allowing hard hearts to wander further away from Him, to their desperation, all while He works to soften them and bring them to salvation.

  11. Janice Lee says:

    1. Jesus drives out the money changers and traders because they were defiling God’s house.
    2. I was not aware that Jesus did this more than once, but I agree with Professor Worrall’s insight that Jesus drove out the traders more than once to drive home His point.
    3. His point is that the Jewish sacrificial system and adherence to the Law could not save the people, so He would offer Himself as the perfect sacrifice and save us from the condemnation of the Law. Through Jesus, we can be in a direct relationship with God.
    4. Sometimes we develop a Christian lifestyle without the life-giving relationship with Christ. We go through the motions of going to church and doing devotions but fail to invite the Holy Spirit to reveal where we need to confess sin and be daily reminded of our need for the cross.
    5. Jesus overturns the tables by allowing us to experience suffering and discomfort that draws our focus back to Him. Through the tough times, we learn to trust in Jesus on a deeper level and are assured of His enduring faithfulness.

  12. Sara Cavitt says:

    1) Jesus confronted the people who were selling in the temple and overturned their tables.
    2) He most likely visited Jerusalem countless times, but Scripture only describes Him wrecking the trade in the temple twice. It could have happened more than once though.
    3) He was trying to show the people that even though they were following the rules of their religion, they were not living passionate lives for God. They were caught up in their system of living.
    4) Often people get caught up in the “rules” of Christianity without realizing that a relationship is what Christ desires from us. Also, the busyness of life, which is an area I struggle with daily, can be distracting from the need for the cross.
    5) Jesus overturns the tables through experiences and situations in life that might shake people up and have them reevaluate their relationship with Christ.

  13. Chelsea says:

    Jesus is ticked off that people had made his Father’s house a place of barter so he overturns the tables in an outrage. He did this twice out of righteous anger. He was showing how they were dishonoring the Lord. The Lord can often “overturn” specific tables in our lives that are drawing us away from experiencing his love. When my future plans fail, or I do not get what I want, the Lord is beckoning me to look to Him for satisfaction and contentment. He is my all.

  14. Nick says:

    In this passage, Jesus rebukes the people who were selling in the temple and drives them out. Jesus may have visited the temple and drive people multiple times during his ministry, but scripture records this happening twice. Jesus was offended and wanted to make sure that His father’s temple was a place of worship and not defiled as a place of trade. I think that at Moody, developing little systems to replace the cross and worshiping God happen frequently. Every class is bible-centered, and then we have chapel three times a week, and sometimes I forget that I still have to seek a relationship with Him outside of those things. Jesus can use whatever means He wants to remind me of this, including trials and loving discipline.

  15. Ashley says:

    1. Jesus drives out those who are making his temple a money-making scheme.
    2. Twice.
    3. Jesus wanted to illustrate that his house was to be a sacred place of prayer and worship, and not a place for people to manipulate, cheat, trade, or make money.
    4. I think many of us like to have a mental checklist of what needs to be accomplished daily/monthly/yearly in order for us to be secured Christians. These systems take our eyes off Jesus and place them on ourselves.
    5. When we live lives of ease and comfort, Jesus seems to rile up our lives a bit. He gives us trials and temptations that draw us nearer to himself and cause us to lean on him.

  16. Michael Huber says:

    Christ overturning the tables did much more than make a mess. He was challenging the common religious practices of the day: making money and even a namesake in the path of religion. By overturning the tables he shows what true religion is all about. FOr those who had been selling at the tables had gotten used to this style of a religious market of sorts.

  17. Beth Coale says:

    1. Confront people misusing the temple
    2. I thought it happened once, but I’m challenged to rethink my understanding and that it might have happened twice.
    3. Make people rethink the traditions they were set in
    4. by depending too much on rules or too much on grace, by allowing ourselves to believe that we are doing enough when we know we aren’t really taking up our cross and living sacrificially
    5. by telling them to take up their cross and follow Him

  18. Amy McCashen says:

    1. Jesus cleaned out the temple of all the traders and moneychangers.
    2. Twice
    3. He was showing how wicked their hearts were that they just wanted to make money and were turning God’s house into a place for trade. He was also foreshadowing the new covenant.
    4. I think this happens to us today when we start to do things just out of habit or routine. We do things just because it’s the right thing to do not because were doing it to love and honor God.
    5. God uses many different ways to bring this back to himself. For example trials and hardships, Family and other believers, or The Bible or sermons that we hear.

  19. Austin Brose says:

    Jesus became furious that his Fathers house was being used for the wrong purposes, it was being defiled. Jesus had done this twice. His point was to show that God’s house, the temple, was being used for the sinful desires of the people. Rather than praising God and giving sacrifices to Him, it was being used to make money. Many people, including myself, tend to do most things out of selfish ambition and vain conceit. We are a self seeking and self pleasing race, even when we do good we should examine our hearts to see if its bringing glory to the cross. Jesus overturns peoples lives, their goals, their plans, their relationships, etc. in order to show that all things must come back to Christ.

  20. Rebekah Thompson (Bekah) says:

    1) Jesus became angry that the temple of the Lord was being used wrongfully and he drove the people out of the temple.
    2) twice
    3) He wanted to show that the temple was a place of worship, a place that was holy and sacred. The temple was being misused for money and cheating.
    4) People think doing things that make them feel good inside is just as good. People think talking with other people about God will suffice. But it is living for the Lord, following God and having a growing relationship with the Lord that is important.
    5) By life coming at people at full speed. This world is full of horrible things and situations…but that Lord is there through all circumstances and will help bring you through those to bring you to the place he desires for you to be.

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