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CHRIST, THE ANTITYPE OF THE TEMPLE,
John ii. 21.
THIS apostle wrote his gospel after the other evangelists had completed their's; and he records many passovers, miracles, actions, sermons, discourses, and circumstances of our most blessed Lord, which are altogether omitted by the others. He begins his divine narrative concerning Jesus, with a most glorious and majestic account of his essential deity, personality, coequality, eternity, and oneness, with the Father, in the unity of the incomprehensible Godhead, in which the eternal Three possess, enjoy, and partake of one equal and incommunicable life of blessedness and glory, which flows from their mutual existence, and personal relation to each other, in the self-existing essence. ,
This being laid as his foundation, and having proclaimed the essential Word as God, with all the perfections of Godhead, and given an incontestible proof of his eternal power and Godhead in the creation of all things, declaring that without him was not any thing made that was made; he proceeds to treat of his incarnation, a most stupendous display of grace! and of his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father; who, when he was manifested in the flesh, to take away our sin, and dwelt in our nature, in our world, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, and to bring in an everlasting righteousness, by his obedience unto death, even the death of the cross, was full of grace and truth.
Thus having declared and set forth the person of Christ as God-man, in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead personally; he goes on to treat of the actions of this most precious Immanuel, as God in our nature. He produces the testimony, which John the baptist bore, concerning him, as the Son of God, and the Lamb of God, by whose sacrifice the sins of the elect world are borne away out of the sight of God; whose blood, as the blood of Jesus Christ, cleanseth from all sin.
In this chapter before us, the evangelist records a miracle wrought by our most precious Jesus, at a marriage in Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. After which, he went from thence down to Capernaum, with his mother, and his brethren. From hence, he went to Jesusalem, to the feast of the passover; at which place and festival, he wrought several miracles, which are not recorded, and which led many to believe on him. See verse 23.
It would add lustre and majesty to all that is written in this gospel, if the personality, Godhead, incarnation, and glory of Christ, were spiritually apprehended, and closely attended unto. Then it would most divinely and evidently appear, that all the time he lived in his incarnate state, he was just what poor sinners needed him to be, "full of grace and truth."
The passover mentioned here, was the first after our Lord's baptism. As our Lord entered the outer court of the temple, he found there, those that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money, sitting at their tables. These persons, for a certain profit, changed any foreign coin into that which was current, and large pieces of money into half shekels, which were, on some occasions, to be paid into the sacred treasury. There must have been a great market for oxen, sheep, and doves, on such a time as this; for Josephus tells us, that no less than two hundred and fifty-six thousand five hundred victims were offered at one passover.
To understand this account before us, concerning our Lord's driving the buyers and sellers out of the temple, it is absolutely necessary to atteud to what follows. It is to be noticed, that all the.courts and appendages, yea, the whole sacred enclosure, called by the jews, the mountain of the house, is stiled, in the new testament, the temple. It was in the outer court and cloisters of the temple that those persons, under pretence of accommodating such as came to worship there with proper sacrifices, sold oxen, sheep, doves, &c.
Our divine Lord was moved with indignation at the sight of this encroachment, made by these persons, who sold and carried on their merchandize here: and he was pleased to manifest it, and display his divine authority and power, as the great prophet over the house of God. He made a scourge of small cords, out of such as he found scattered up and down on the sacred floor. With these, as with a whip, he drove out these persons; he poured out the changers money, and overthrew the tables, at which they were sitting; and said unto them that sold doves, "Take these things hence; make not my Father's house a house of merchandize." Dr. Lightfoot says, our Lord's appearance at this time, was an accomplishment of the prophecy, Malachi iii. 1, 2. "The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple: even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in. Behold he shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts: but who shall abide the day of his coming? And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi."
Thus our Lord, acting as one sent of God, shewed his zeal to be most divine and fervent; which brought to the remembrance of his disciples a passage in the 69th Psalm, written concerning the Messiah—" The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up."
This public and remarkable display of our Lord's power, his proclaiming that God was his Father, and forbidding these persons, who had profaned the temple, to make his Father's house an house of merchandize; expressing, at the same time, his holy indignation against such profanity. The report of this reached the ears of the grand sanhedrim, or senate of the nation, and some of them deputed persons; or, perhaps, such persons as were present when Christ thus acted and spake, overawed and thunderstruck, they did Dot seek to withstand him, or object to what he had done; but demanded his authority for so doing, they knew it was not by a commission from the grand council of the nation. If he pretended to divine authority for doing what he had done, which they supposed he did, then they demanded a sign, or miracle to be wrought, to prove that God was his Father, as he suggested, and that he was the proprietor of the temple, and had a right to purge it, as he had done. "What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing thou doest these things?" Verse 18. We are sure if thou hast not a divine commission, which we