John 2:17
High purposes were subserved by the exercise of the Saviour's authority both at the beginning and at the close of his ministry. If there was in this conduct an evidential meaning for the Jews, there was also a symbolical meaning for all time.


1. The true answer to this inquiry is to be found in the language of the Lord himself. The temple was his Father's house. It was the building which was originally erected in a measure upon the model of the tabernacle of the wilderness, the pattern of which had been communicated by Jehovah in some way to Moses, the servant of God. It was by Divine command that a certain special locality and building were set apart and consecrated to the service of him, who nevertheless "dwelleth not in temples made with hands."

2. The holy memories of national history gathered around this sacred edifice. The original tabernacle was associated with Moses and Aaron; the first temple at Jerusalem with the great kings - David who prepared for it, and Solomon who built it; the second temple with the great leaders of the return from the Captivity; and this restored edifice, in its costly magnificence, with the royal Herodian house.

3. The sacrifices which were offered, the priesthoods that ministered, the festivals which were observed, the praises and prayers which were presented, in these consecrated precincts, all added to the sanctity of the place.

4. And it must be remembered that the house of the Father was the house of the children; that our Lord himself designated the temple "a house of prayer for all nations. This may not have been acknowledged or understood by the Jews themselves. Yet there were intimations throughout their sacred literature in its successive stages that they, as a nation, were elected in order that through them all the nations of the earth might be blessed. The width of the counsels of Divine benevolence is apparent to all who study the psalms and prophecies of the Old Testament Scripture; and our Lord's language connects those counsels with the dedicated house at Jerusalem.

5. To our minds the temple possesses sanctity through its devotion to a symbolical use, for by anticipation it set forth in emblem the holiness of our Lord's body and the purity of the spiritual Church of Christ. The temple at Jerusalem should be destroyed in the crisis of Israel's fate; the sanctuary of the Lord's body should be taken down; and the holy temple, consecrated to the Lord, should grow in stateliness and beauty until all the living stones should be built into it for grace and glory eternal.

II. BY WHAT THE HOLINESS OF THE TEMPLE WAS VIOLATED. There must have been an infamous desecration in order to have awakened such indignation in the breast of Jesus. We can see two respects in which this was so.

1. The building was abused and profaned in being diverted from sacred to secular uses. Where there should have been only sacrifices, there were sales of beasts and birds; where there should have been only offerings, there was money changing.

2. The sanctity of the temple was violated by the cupidity of the rulers, who, it is well known, made a sinful and scandalous profit for themselves by the transactions which awakened the indignation of Jesus.

3. Nor was this all, injustice and fraud were added to cupidity - the temple became a den of thieves."


1. By the interposition of One of the highest dignity. Christ was "greater than the temple;" he was the Lord of the temple; nay, he was himself the true Temple appointed to supersede the material structure.

2. By the exercise of just and manifested authority. The demeanour and the language of Jesus were such as to preclude resistance, to silence murmuring. The Lord came to his own inheritance, to the house of his Father.

3. By the comparison of the edifice at Jerusalem to his own sacred body. In the language he used in his subsequent conversation with the Jews, he "spake of the Temple of his body," and in so doing he attached to the sanctuary a holiness greater than was conferred upon it by all the associations of its use and of its history. - T.

The zeal of Thine house hath eaten Me up.
I. ITS SPHERE. We cannot confine it to the temple or any other ecclesiastical structure.

1. The universe, in all the glory of its interminable spreadings, is the house of God. There is not a lonely spot which is not full of Deity.

2. And when we divide this universe into sections we know that there is some scene hououred above others with the Almighty's presence — where angels cluster, and where the Creator may be said more emphatically to dwell.

3. The whole company of the faithful upon earth constitute "the house of God" — builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.

4. Nay, there is not a solitary individual, over whom the great change has passed, who is not tenanted by the High and Lofty One.

II. CHRIST'S ZEAL WORKING IN THIS SPHERE. Zeal devoured the spirit of our Saviour, and in driving out the traffickers from the temple we can recognize the workings of the principle, but we cannot limit it to this. We gather from the expression —

1. That Jesus was consumed with a lofty desire to benefit the denizens of the universe.

2. Over the inhabitants of heaven Christ poured His amazing solicitudes.

3. An ardent longing to rescue this world from its degradation, and to build up its desecrated fragments into s temple of the living God, throbbed in the heart of Jesus of Nazareth. Confined, as it might have seemed, to a single race, its effect branched out into every quarter of the house of God, and orders of intelligence which needed not to be brought to the Saviour might have been confirmed and sustained by that which put man within the circles of acceptance.

4. Viewing God's house as including the believing remnants of Adam's descendants, we see Him entering on His course as the sun enters on his march in the firmament. His soul yearned over those who had destroyed themselves. He entered into the nature on which rested the awful curse; and when the race He had come to redeem rejected Him, the zeal of God's house kept Him fast on His pathway of pain.

(H. Melvill.)

I. The OBJECT of zeal — "Thy house." The Jewish temple as symbolizing —

1. The Old Testament Church.

2. The world of sinners.

3. Corrupted Christian communities.

II. The NATURE of zeal. True and godly zeal, says Bp. Jewell, eateth and devoureth up the heart, even as the thing that is eaten is turned into the substance of him that eateth it; and as iron, while iris burning hot, is turned into the nature of the fire, so great and just is the grief that they which have this zeal conceive when they see God's house spoiled, or His holy name dishonoured.

III. The MANIFESTATION of the zeal.

1. In rigidly expelling the defiling and the false.

2. In replacing and building up the pure and the true.

It is said that sometimes when a crowd see a vessel that is going to pieces, and hear the cries of the drowning men, they seem as if they were all seized with madness, because, not being able to give vent to their kindness toward the perishing ones by any practical activity, they know not what to do, and are ready to sacrifice their lives if they might but do something to save others. Men feel that they must work in the presence of so dreadful a need. And Christ saw this world of ours quivering over the pit. He saw it floating, as it were, in an atmosphere of fire, and he wished to quench those flames and make the world rejoice, and therefore He must work to that end. He could not rest and be quiet.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Let the zeal of the house of God ever eat thee. For example: seest thou a brother running to the theatre? stop him, warn him, be grieved for him, if the zeal of God's house hath now eaten thee. Seest thou others running and wanting to drink themselves drunk? Stop whom thou canst, hold whom thou canst, frighten whom thou canst; whom thou canst, win in gentleness: do not in any wise sit still and do nothing.

( Augustine.)

The most remarkable examples of zeal are found in the records of the early itinerant ministers. Richard Nolley, one of these, came upon the fresh trail of an emigrant in the wilderness, and followed it till he overtook the family. When the emigrant saw him he said, "What? a Methodist preacher! I quit Virginia to be out of the way of them; but in my settlement in Georgia I thought I should be beyond their reach. There they were; and they got my wife and daughter into their church. Then I come here to Chocktaw Corner, find a piece of land, feel sure that I shall have some peace from the preachers; and here is one before I have unloaded my waggon!" The preacher exhorted him to make his peace with God, that he might not be troubled by the everywhere present Methodist preachers.

A young Brahman put this question to the Rev. E. Lewis, of Bellary — "Do the Christian people of England really believe that it would be a good thing for the people of India to become Christians?" "Why, yes, to be sure they do," he replied. "What I mean is this," continued the Brahman, "do they in their hearts believe that the Hindoos would be better and happier if they were converted to Christianity?" "Certainly they do," said Mr. Lewis. "Why, then, do they act in such a strange way? Why do they send so few to preach their religion? When there are vacancies in the Civil Service, there are numerous applicants at once; when there is a military expedition, a hundred officers volunteer for it; in commercial enterprises, also, you are full of activity, and always have a strong staff. But it is different with your religion. I see one missionary with his wife here, and one hundred and fifty miles away is another, and one hundred miles in another direction is a third. How can the Christians of England expect to convert the people of India from their hoary faith with so little effort on their part?"

(Chronicle of London Missionary Society.)

When Baxter came to Kidderminster there was about one family in a street which worshipped God at home. When he went away there were some streets in which there was not more than one family on a side that did not do it; and this was the case even with inns and public-houses. While some Divines were wrangling about the Divine right of Episcopacy or Presbytery, or splitting hairs about reprobation and free-will, Baxter was always visiting from house to house, and beseeching men, for Christ's sake, to be reconciled to God and flee from the wrath to come.

(Bp. Ryle.)

It is in the matter of religion as with the tending of a still; if we put in too much fire it burns, if too little, it works not: a middle temper must be kept. A heat there must be, but a moderate one. We may not be like a drowsy judge upon a Grecian bench, who is fain to bite upon beans, to keep himself from sleeping; neither may we be like that Grecian player, who acted mad Ajax on the stage; but we must be soberly fervent and discreetly active. St. Paul's spirit was stirred within him at Athens because of its idolatry, and it breaks out of his mouth in a grave reproof: I do not see him put his hand furiously to demolish them. And if a Juventius and Maximinian, in the heat of zeal, shall rail on wicked Julian at a feast, he justly casts their death, not on their religion, but on their petulancy. It was a well-made decree in the council of Eliberis, that if any man did take upon him to break down idols, and were slain, he should not be reckoned amongst the martyrs. There must then be two moderators of zeal, discretion and charity, without either and both of which it is no other than a wild distemper; and with them, it is no less than the very life-blood of the Christian.

(Bp. Hall.)

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