In the temple in Jerusalem at Jesus’ time, the largest area was called the Court of the Gentiles. It was open to anyone, Jew and non-Jew alike. The successive areas became more restrictive with the Court of Women (for Jews only), the Court of Israel (for Jewish men only), the Sanctuary (for priests only) and the Holy of Holies (into which only the high priest entered and then just once a year). The animals and moneychangers were located in the Court of the Gentiles. The area had been intended as a space where people could meet to pray or discuss scriptural interpretation with rabbis. It was in this space that Jesus would teach during the week prior to his death. Jesus desired to clear the area of the animals and the noise so as to return the space to its intended use.
Jesus clears the temple area to restore it to its true purpose. Paul writes to the Corinthians: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Holy Spirit dwells in you? (1 Cor 3:16), and again, “We are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor 6:16). We are the sanctuary where Jesus has chosen to reside. As Jesus comes into this temple, will he find it truly oriented to the purpose for which God created you and me? Will he find cause to do some clearing and cleaning? Jesus, cleanse this temple and restore it to the purpose for which you have created it.