Conversion before Cleansing – John 2
“13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”[n]
18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.[o] 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.” John 2:13-34 NIV (emphasis mine)
Up until this point, the disciples might have thought they had Jesus figured out. They may have thought He was becoming familiar to them. Jesus was tender in heart. He was the Lamb of God. He was the Wonderful, Counselor, the One who turned water to wine and brought great joy at the wedding party. Jesus was kind, gentle, inviting, and approachable. He loved people. He invited them to “come and see.” At the wedding, He created joy. At the temple, things were about to change. He was about to bring judgment.
At Passover, Jerusalem was crowded with thousands of visitors and the temple in particular, was crowded with people doing business in the outer courts. The outer court was the only place that Gentiles were allowed to come and worship.
In John 2:13-34, Jesus does something the disciples don’t expect. He takes on a seemingly different persona. In what seems to be a rage, Jesus goes into the temple courts and drove out those who were in the temple using it as a means to gain money and overturned their tables. Here are some lessons we learn from these passages.
1 – Jesus has an intense passion for His church.
In verse 15, we see that Jesus’ anger was not an impulsive blind rage. He took the time to carefully make a whip of cords. He thought carefully about what He was going to do. It is also interesting that Jesus stopped and made sure not to knock over the cages holding the doves. If He knocked over those cages, the doves would surely be killed. Instead, He stopped and told the merchants them to “get these out of here!” He was controlled enough to ensure the safety of the doves that were offered as sacrifices. Clearly Jesus was very zealous and had a radical passion for the purity of the temple… or the church.
This tells me that if you are down on the church, or if you don’t have time for church, you are out of sync with the Lord’s heart. He has a great passion for the church.
John 2:18 is interesting. As Jesus is wreaking havoc in the temple, the merchants ask a question. Notice they didn’t ask, “Why are you doing this?” The asked, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do this?” They didn’t ask why He was cleaning the temple, because they knew its practices were corrupt. Instead they wanted to know what authority Jesus cleansed the temple under.
Jesus answers by referring to Himself as the temple. Destroy this temple… Me” He said, “and in three days I will raise it up!” This is what He did at Calvary and would serve as a reminder to the disciples of Jesus’ identity after the resurrection.
2 – Conversion comes before cleansing
At the start of John 2, we see a conversion – Jesus converting the water to wine. This sign is a cleansing – Jesus enters and begins cleansing the temple. This is how Jesus works in the lives of His people. The Gospel is that Jesus leads us first to conversion and then moves us to cleansing.
This goes in contrast to the thinking of many who think they need a cleansing in their lives before converting to Jesus. Too many people have bought into the deception that if they can only cleanse their lives first, they can then be converted to Christ. Jesus calls us to conversion first, cleansing next.
Have you been trying to cleanse your life before you come to Jesus? Come to Him for conversion first. Come just as You are. Come and let Him turn your heart from water to wine. Experience a conversion to Christ FIRST, then let Him cleanse you.
Thank You Jesus that Your acceptance comes before my transformation. You receive me as I am for conversion, but You care enough to cleanse me as I come. You have an intense zeal for Your church Lord. Increase my heart and passion for Your church as well. In the strong name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Ty Tamasaka is an author who hold a Master of Arts Degree from Pacific Rim Christian University in Christian Ministry He is a Bible teacher who loves to encourage people to enjoy Jesus’ grace and extend His Kingdom. Ty just released his new book More than a Conqueror: 5 Pathways to Personal Revival.