John 2:13-22 contains Jesus’ first “cleansing” of the Temple where he denounces their evil practices concerning worship of God. Jesus’ extreme reaction triggered a memory of scripture that applied to Jesus in this moment, Psalm 69 which says, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Certainly in this moment Jesus was consumed with zeal for God’s house.
A subtle point in Psalm 69 applied to Jesus is his identifying with his heavenly Father over his earthly family. Listen to what that section of the psalm says,
[Psa 69:6-9 ESV] 6 Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. 7 For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that dishonor has covered my face. 8 I have become a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my mother’s sons. 9 For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.
In chapter 2, at the wedding feast we see Jesus perhaps distancing himself from his mother. In this event we see Jesus distancing himself again from his earthly family and identifying with his heavenly Father.
Jesus calls the Temple, “my Father’s house,” which goes unchallenged here but not in chapter 5 (v. 18). Calling God “my father” was a form of blasphemy in the Jews’ eyes. It was making yourself equal to God. The Jews would say, “God is much higher than you than a father to a son.” But for Jesus, he is equal to God and can rightfully call him “my father.” (For us Christians, we are adopted children and his creation; God graciously permits us to call him “our father,” but Jesus’ use of the term held a deeper meaning.)
Jesus echoes the feelings of this psalm. He is not thinking like a Jewish son of Mary and Joseph here; he is thinking like the Son of God the Father. He is concerned with God’s house, not just his Temple but also his household.
The psalm says, “the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.” When God is insulted, Jesus is insulted. Jesus feels personally offended when they offend God. Jesus identifies himself with God so much that God’s business is Jesus’ business (Luke 2:49). That is the source of Jesus’ zeal.
Isn’t there a lesson for us in this? Do we identify ourselves with God? Do we think God’s business is our business? Are we focused on the matters of God’s house?
If we identify ourselves with God, view ourselves as God’s children, and view our business as God’s business, then we would be offended to see God’s house abused like it was in John 2. Any offense to God is an offense to his children. As God’s children we should feel a righteous indignation to hear or see someone abuse God’s business or house.
We should echo twelve year old Jesus’ words in Luke 2:49, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Also translated, “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?”