In John 2, Jesus enters the temple for an act that will signal the beginning of His public ministry. (His earlier miracle at Cana, turning water into wine, was not a public declaration.) What takes place next is quite dramatic:
“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me’” (John 2:13-17).
What Jesus did here was more than radical. If you wanted to announce your ministry, would you go into a megachurch and start turning over tables and driving people away? Jesus was up to more than just showing His authority. He was demonstrating that He was about to turn things upside down in every way.
This all happened during the Passover season. At the first Passover, Jewish families had to slay a lamb as a ritual sacrifice, draining the blood and applying it on the doorframe of their house. The idea was that when the angel of death arrived and saw the blood marking the door, he would pass over that home. It was a symbolic ritual that reenacted God’s saving deliverance of Israel from Egypt, when He set His people free from all bondage and slavery.
Now Jesus came on the scene as the Lamb of God whose sacrifice would provide our deliverance from the curse of sin. John the Baptist was aware of this, having already declared of Him, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). In less than three years’ time, the world would behold Christ’s finished work as the sin of all humankind was laid upon Him.