EARLY INCIDENTS IN OUR LORD'S PUBLIC MINISTRY
FIRST CLEARING OF THE TEMPLE
Soon after the marriage festivities in Cana, Jesus, accompanied by His disciples, as
also by His mother and other members of the family, went to Capernaum, a town
pleasantly situated near the northerly end of the Sea of Galilee or Lake of Gennesaret
and the scene of many of our Lord's miraculous works; indeed it came to be known as
His own city.
Because of the unbelief of its people it became a subject of lamentation
to Jesus when in sorrow He prefigured the judgment that would befall the place.
exact site of the city is at present unknown. On this occasion Jesus tarried but a few days
at Capernaum; for the time of the annual Passover was near, and in compliance with
Jewish law and custom He went up to Jerusalem.
The synoptic Gospels,
which are primarily devoted to the labors of Christ in
Galilee, contain no mention of His attendance at the paschal festival between His twelfth
year and the time of His death; to John alone are we indebted for the record of this visit at
the beginning of Christ's public ministry. It is not improbable that Jesus had been present
at other Passovers during the eighteen years over which the evangelists pass in complete
and reverent silence; but at any or all such earlier visits, He, not being thirty years old,
could not have assumed the right or privilege of a teacher without contravening
It is worth our attention to note that on this, the first recorded
appearance of Jesus in the temple subsequent to His visit as a Boy, He should resume His
"Father's business" where He had before been engaged. It was in His Father's service that
He had been found in discussion with the doctors of the law,
and in His Father's cause
He was impelled to action on this later occasion.
The multitudinous and mixed attendance at the Passover celebration has already
received passing mention;
some of the unseemly customs that prevailed are to be held
in mind. The law of Moses had been supplemented by a cumulative array of rules, and
the rigidly enforced requirements as to sacrifices and tribute had given rise to a system of
sale and barter within the sacred precincts of the House of the Lord. In the outer courts
were stalls of oxen, pens of sheep, cages of doves and pigeons; and the ceremonial fitness
of these sacrificial victims was cried aloud by the sellers, and charged for in full measure.
It was the custom also to pay the yearly poll tribute of the sanctuary at this season—the
ransom offering required of every male in Israel, and amounting to half a shekel
each, irrespective of his relative poverty or wealth. This was to be paid "after the shekel
of the sanctuary," which limitation, as rabbis had ruled, meant payment in temple coin.
Ordinary money, varieties of which bore effigies and inscriptions of heathen import, was