The temple in Jerusalem represented the holiness of God to his people. Jesus came to the temple during the yearly Passover celebration only to find that the area had been turned in to a busy marketplace where people were concentrating on money instead of God. His deep love and respect for God led Jesus to take dramatic public action to show everyone the real purpose of God’s house. He cleared the tables with a whip and turning them over.
Scripture References: John 2:12-17
Suggested Emphasis: Love God deeply and show him respect.
Group Share Time
Was there ever a time in your life when you thought something was free but then you found out you had to pay for it? What items or experiences are actually free in life? Which aspects of our church life require money and which are free of monetary cost? This discussion leads into Jesus’ reaction to people making worship of God all about money.
Story from the Bible
An adult or young reader can read the words below as the slides are shown.
1. Cover: Jesus and the Moneychangers, John 2:12-17
2. Jesus and his disciples travelled from place to place teaching people about God. At the time of the special Jewish feast of Passover they traveled to Jerusalem to worship God and take part in special ceremonies at the temple. Mary, and some of his brothers went along too. They all looked forward to a special time in Jerusalem. They thought about the beautiful temple. They thought about how people would be worshipping God at the temple.
3. Ever since he was a young boy Jesus had been taught by his parents that the temple of God in Jerusalem was a very important place. This was a place where people came to worship God and offer sacrifices. At the temple everyone was supposed to be thinking and talking about God.
4. But when they arrived at the temple it did not seem as if people were there to worship God at all. The people were not treating the temple like a special place of God. Instead, the temple looked like a big market! Animals were making loud noises. Jesus heard cattle, sheep and doves. Some people were exchanging money and trying to cheat people. The people were not thinking about God at all.
5. Jesus was very sad and angry at the way people were treating God and God’s special place. Jesus is the son of God so the temple was his Father’s house. He loved his father and he loved his father’s house! Jesus knew he needed to do something very drastic so that everyone would understand how serious this was.
6. So Jesus did something that shocked everyone. He tied cords of rope together to make a whip to swing around. Then he began swinging the rope and turning over the tables that people had put in the wrong places in the temple. He shooed the birds and animals away and caused the money that people were cheating with to fall all over the ground. Jesus said, “Get those things out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”
7. Before this everyone was thinking about money and the market. Now, at last, people had time to stop and think about what Jesus had been teaching. It was time to love and respect God at his temple just like Jesus did.
8. By the time Jesus left many people were talking about him. Some had learned to love God more because of what Jesus said. Some got angry and began to say bad things about Jesus.
What would you have done if you had been there that day?
Verse(s) to Think About
“When this happened the followers remembered what was written in the Scriptures: ‘My strong love for your Temple completely controls me.’” John 2:17
“Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” Matthew 21:12-13
“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” Psalm 29:2
Choose Activities and Learn Together
Select activities that suit your family or group. Consider ages and abilities and how to involve everyone present in at least one of the activities.
- AT HOME Look around your home and point out what is special about your house that makes it your home. Why is it special? How does it represent your family or the people who live in your house? How would it feel if someone came into your house and made fun of it or even damaged it? Compare this with how Jesus considered the temple God’s house.
- EXPLORE: Show these video recreations of the temple. Preview them to make sure they are appropriate for your group:
- IN THE WORD: Jesus quotes from Jeremiah’s temple sermon. Compare the treatment of the temple in Jeremiah 7:1-11 with the temple as Jesus saw it. How does this relate to how we view God today?
- IN THE WORD: Read Ephesians 4:31-32 and talk about what it means. Now read and talk about John 2:17. Discuss Jesus’ actions in John 2:17 in light of Ephesians 4:31-32. Did Jesus lose control of his temper? How do the actions of Jesus relate to love?
- GAME/ACTIVITY: Divide into teams or have individuals face off. Turn plastic cups upside down on a table top. Provide string or thin rope to each team and begin the game. The first team to form a “whip” and use it to knock over the cups wins the game.
- CREATIVE: Write a poem about God or your love for him. Share with the group.
- LIFE APPLICATION: Brainstorm situations that potentially lead to anger. Write each of these on individual index cards or pieces of paper. Now read Ephesians 4:26 together. After collecting a few of these go back through each one and answer these questions for each:
- What negative action might you take when this situation arises?
- What positive action might you take when this situation arises?
- How would this situation relate to love?
- What specific things would you bring before God in prayer when this situation arises?
- LITTLE ONES: Write “God is the Best” on the centre of any paper and let the children decorate with crayons, markers, stickers, glitter, etc.
- FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Use “special” dishes to serve the food on or lay out a special tablecloth. This would be a good time to use a dish that belonged to your parents or someone who was special to you. Share with the group why it is special.
Singing does not have to be a performance. Don’t take yourself too seriously. In the privacy of your own home or within a small group allow yourself to just be genuine and enjoy the experience together.
Singing songs yourself is more reliable than viewing them online. If you are viewing published videos online on forums such as YouTube be sure and preview them first to make sure there are not unhelpful advertisements. To avoid long pauses due to internet speed issues play the song through once before you begin and then hold it paused and ready to go at the beginning of the song.
- Building Up The Temple
- He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands
- My God is So Big!
- My Only Hope is You (YouTube video with sing-along slides to follow,
- Lord Prepare Me to Be a Sanctuary (YouTube video of family singing together, Sam & Easter)
- More songs to choose from
Additional Mission Bible Class Resources
- Instructions for Family Bible Time and Intergenerational Groups here.
- More teacher information and additional ideas for today’s lesson here.
- How to Plan a Bible Class for Children
- How to Teach Children at Various Ages
- Ideas for Teachers
- Songs for Bible Class
- Praying With Children
- Movement and Dance
Scriptures quoted from the International Children’s Bible®, copyright ©1986, 1988, 1999, 2015 by Tommy Nelson. Used by permission.