Matthew 21:12-17 / Mark 11:15-17 / Luke 19:45-46…
Near the beginning of His ministry, Jesus went to the temple and drove out those who used the people for the sake of money (John 2:13-22). Here, near the end of His ministry, Jesus once again enters the temple and demonstrates the nature of His kingdom.
The problem for Israel was not Roman oppression, but their abandonment of God. They had went right back to doing all the ungodly and unholy things they were doing three years earlier when He came the first time. And so Jesus once again demonstrated God’s vengeance against false religion and blasphemy.
The religious authorities had been looking to kill Jesus, yet here He shows who has the real authority. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. They weren’t able to stop Him from stopping their enterprise.
In the intervening years between these temple visits, Jesus had seen much injustice, and He will indeed set all these things right when He comes again. But the political, economic, and social issues were not Jesus’ mission. In His first advent, sin was the issue. He must first come as savior, and then as sovereign.
He drives the money out and calls the ministry in. Their corruption is contrasted by His conviction (My house shall be called a house of prayer, cf. Isaiah 56:7) and His compassion (And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them). Their contention (But…the chief priests…were indignant) is met by His correction (Out of the mouth of infants…you have prepared praise, cf. Psalm 8:2). The chiefs were full of wrath while the children were full of worship.
Yes, it takes money to keep a machine going. But it takes the Spirit of God to keep ministry going. While God seems to allow all of this false religion and blasphemy to go on, when He decides it will end, He will end it, starting with the church (1 Peter 4:17).