Twice Jesus refers to the Temple as his Father’s House. Lk. 2:41-51 and Jn. 2:13-17. It was the seat of the Divine presence in Israel. A place of pilgrimage, the Temple court was three hundred yards wide by five hundred yards long. At the time of the great festivals the population of the city trebled. The Temple courts were thronged with people. Besides its religious role it was a civic centre. Money changers traded in the civic area. Animals were sold for sacrifice. Herod the Great began to rebuild the Temple in 20-19 BC. The main work was completed in ten years. The decoration continued until 64 AD. Jesus was born towards the end of Herod’s life and when he visited the Temple, work was still in progress.
First Visit to the Temple - On the eighth day after his birth he was circumcised and given the name Jesus. “When the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.” Lk. 2:22-39
Luke records another visit. At the age of twelve, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. To their consternation he went missing. Lk. 2:40-52
The Sanctuary showing the court of the women. At the west end of the court is the Beautiful gate through which pilgrims passed into the court of men bringing their sacrificial offerings.The treasury was situated in the court of the women. Mk. 12:43-44. Jn. 8:20
Cleansing of the Temple.- John 3:22-24. In the beginning Jesus shared the ministry of John the Baptist. John preached in Samaria, Jesus in Judea. In John’s Gospel this would seem to be the occasion of Jesus first preaching in Jerusalem. It was the time of the Passover and Jesus was offended by the transactions of money-changers and the sale of oxen, sheep and pigeons in the court of the Temple. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and drove sheep and oxen from the Temple. Jn.2:13-17.
The money changers conducted business in the civic area of the Temple. Animals were probably sold in the court of the Gentiles inside the north wall whose gate opened to the countryside and allowed easy access.
Teaching in the Temple
In Mark. 11.17 Jesus declares that the Temple should be a place of prayer “but you have made it a den of robbers.” He warns his listeners to “beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the market place…”. Sitting opposite the treasury he observed a widow putting in two small coins: “I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything that she had, all she had to live on.” 12:43-44. On another occasion the chief priests, the scribes and elders confronted him as he was walking in the Temple. 11:27-33; Mt. 21:23. It is clear from Mark that he frequently taught in the Temple. Mk.14:49
John’s Gospel: From chapter seven Jesus is in Jerusalem. John suggests that two thirds of Jesus ministry happens in Jerusalem. His appearances in the Temple were filled with tension and opposition. In 7:14, Jesus is teaching in the Temple, in the following Chapter he is teaching in the treasury of the Temple. During the festival of the Dedication, winter time, Jesus was walking in the portico of the Solomon 10:23.
Jesus’ Body is the Temple of God
In John 2:19 Jesus declares: “Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up” … “But he was speaking of the Temple of his body.” Jn. 2:22. Now, the presence of God is in the body of the Word made Flesh.