Most of us are familiar with this story when, during the Passover celebration, Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem to find a bustling marketplace selling, among other things, animals for sacrifice. Since the Exodus, God had instituted animal sacrifice as a means of atonement for sin. So that God’s people would not suffer the penalty of sin upon themselves, the blood of the sacrificial animal carried away their sins from the sight of a holy God. As John 2:15 describes, Jesus was infuriated by the market and took swift action.
The Temple marketplace was a corruption of Israel’s holy covenant with God, a barrier between God’s love and His people—the poor, in particular. So Jesus purified the Temple by driving out the corruption within, His burning anger fueled by divine love for those who were being kept from grace for lack of coin.
God’s love, and His anger alike, burns for all of His children. Throughout scripture, God is either making provisions for the poor, or He is admonishing His people for their neglect of the same. God decries our prosperity when His children suffer in our midst. Not only that, He gives them a name and a face: The naked, the hungry, the widow, the orphan, the foreigner, the prisoner, the sick, the oppressed.
These people are our responsibility. Jesus destroyed any doubt when He said, “When you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.” (Matthew 25:40) There is no separating our love for God from our love for those in need. As our hearts continue to turn away from sin and back to the Father, so, too, must our hearts turn toward His people.