Gospel Project Unit 31, Session 3: Jesus Cleansed the Temple
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. This week’s Bible story comes from Matthew 21:12-17; Mark 11:15-19; and Luke 19:45-48.
In preparation for the Passover feast, Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The Books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke also describe Jesus’ cleansing of the temple. Herod the Great completely rebuilt the temple in 20–18 B.C. as part of his architectural projects. Herod’s temple was surrounded by walls and gates, with specific places for Gentiles, women, and men to worship God and offer sacrifices.
When Jesus entered the Court of the Gentiles, He was furious to see people buying and selling in the temple. Animal sacrifices were required for participation in the temple, since God declared that all Jewish men must appear three times before the Lord each year, and they must not appear empty-handed. (See Deut. 16:16.) For many worshipers traveling from all over the Roman Empire to take part in Passover, it was easier to purchase unblemished animals for sacrificing in the Court of the Gentiles. There, they also exchanged foreign currency for the temple taxes and offerings. So why was Jesus angry at the people?
The merchants buying and selling in the temple were treating the temple as a market or bazaar, not like the house of prayer for all nations that God had intended for it to be. (See Isa. 56:7.) The moneychangers’ prices were so exorbitant, they were practically robbing the people. (Mark 11:17) On top of that, people were using the temple courts as a shortcut to get to their businesses. The Gentiles who wished to worship God in peace were surrounded by greed and extortion.
After Jesus threw out the merchants and moneychangers, the chief priests and the scribes wanted to destroy Him. (Luke 19:47) Jesus was angry that people were misusing the temple, the place people could go to meet with God.
Today, Christians do not go to a temple to meet with God or to offer sacrifices for sin. Jesus died on the cross as the final payment for sin, and God’s Spirit lives in us!
To reinforce learning use this activity:
Guide your family to discuss times when they were angry for the wrong reasons. Ask them how they could have responded differently. Read Matthew 21:12-17 together. Jesus was angry for the right reasons. People were sinning by misusing the temple, which was the place people could go to meet with God. Today, we don’t have to go to a temple to meet with God because God’s Spirit lives in all who trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
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