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The Temple of Jerusalem holds a unique and profound place in the history and faith of the Israelites. It was not only the central place of worship and sacrifice but also symbolized God’s dwelling among His people. For Jesus, the Son of God, the Temple was more than just a religious structure; it was His Father’s house, a place of reverence and sanctity.

History of the Temple

The construction of the first Temple began around 950 B.C. under King Solomon, as recorded in 1 Kings 6:1. This magnificent structure served as the central place of worship for the Israelites until its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, in 586 B.C. (2 Kgs 24-25, 2 Chr 36). After the Babylonian exile, Cyrus II of Persia allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their Temple. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, the second Temple was constructed between 536 B.C. and 515 B.C. (Ezr 6:15-18). Despite its completion, the second Temple lacked the grandeur and sacred artifacts of Solomon’s Temple, including the Ark of the Covenant and the Shekinah glory of God.

King Herod the Great later undertook a massive renovation of the second Temple, starting in 19 B.C., enhancing its magnificence and making it a marvel of architecture and devotion. This Temple stood until it was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70, as foretold by Jesus (Mk 13:1-2).

Sections of the Temple

The Temple was meticulously divided into sections, each with its own purpose and level of sanctity. The innermost section, the Holy of Holies, was the most sacred space, where the high priest would enter once a year on the Day of Atonement to offer incense and seek God’s mercy for the people. The Holy Place, just outside the Holy of Holies, contained the golden altar of incense, the menorah, and the table of showbread. Priests would enter the Holy Place daily to perform their rituals.

Surrounding these holy areas were various courts: the Court of Israel for Jewish men, the Court of Women for Jewish women, and the Court of Gentiles, where non-Jews could come to pray. The Temple also featured a treasury for offerings and numerous facilities for religious activities.


Jesus as a Child in the Temple

At the age of twelve, Jesus demonstrated His unique relationship with God and His deep understanding of spiritual matters. After the Feast of the Passover, when Joseph and Mary found Jesus in the Temple, He was sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. His parents were astonished to find Him there, and when they expressed their concern, Jesus replied, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:49). This response highlights Jesus’ awareness of His divine sonship and His mission, even from a young age.

Cleansing the Temple

Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple, described in all four Gospels, was a dramatic act of protest against the corruption and commercial exploitation occurring in the Court of Gentiles. Merchants had moved their businesses from the Mount of Olives to the Temple area, transforming a place of prayer into a marketplace. They exploited pilgrims by charging exorbitant prices for sacrificial animals and high fees for currency exchange, with the complicity of the Temple authorities.

This significant event emphasized the importance of the Temple as His Father’s house. Upon entering the Temple courts, Jesus found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. He made a whip of cords and drove all from the Temple courts, scattering the coins of the money changers and overturning their tables. To those who sold doves, He said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace” (Jn 2:16). This act was not just about clearing out commercial activities; it was a declaration that the Temple should be a place of worship and prayer, not a center for commerce.

Jesus’ actions were reminiscent of the Maccabean revolt against the defilement of the Temple by Hellenistic influences. His righteous anger was directed at the injustice and desecration of God’s house, emphasizing the need for true worship and integrity in religious practice.

Jesus’ Claim of Rebuilding the Temple in Three Days

After cleansing the Temple, Jesus made a profound statement: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn 2:19). The Jews misunderstood this, thinking He referred to the physical Temple, which had been under construction for forty-six years. However, Jesus spoke of His body, foretelling His death and resurrection. His resurrection on the third day would establish a new covenant and a new understanding of God’s dwelling among His people.


For Christians, the reverence that Jesus showed towards the Temple underscores the importance of respecting places of worship. Churches and other places dedicated to God’s glory are to be treated with honor and reverence, reflecting the holiness of God’s presence. As it is written, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Mt 18:20). This reminds us that our gatherings in worship are sanctified by God’s presence.

Moreover, Jesus’ actions in the Temple challenge us to reflect on our own lives. Just as He cleansed the Temple, we are called to cleanse our hearts and lives from anything that dishonors God. The Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

As Christians, let us take to heart the lessons from Jesus’ interactions with the Temple:

1. Respect and Reverence: Let us honor our places of worship, treating them with the reverence they deserve as houses of God.

2. Purity and Holiness: Like Jesus cleansing the Temple, we must strive to cleanse our lives from sin and anything that detracts from our worship and relationship with God.

3. Awareness of God’s Presence: Recognize that God is present among us when we gather in His name, making our communal worship a sacred event.

4. Personal Sanctity: Remember that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, calling us to live in a way that glorifies God.

In conclusion, the example of Jesus in His Father’s house serves as a powerful reminder of the sanctity of our places of worship and our own lives. Let us continually strive to live in a manner that honors God, keeping our hearts and communities holy, just as Jesus demonstrated with His reverence for the Temple.

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