John 2:16 (ESV): 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”
In John’s gospel, Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple appears to happen very early in his ministry. In the Synoptic Gospels, on the other hand, we find Jesus cleansing the Temple in the final week before his crucifixion.
John is known for taking events out of chronological order; his purpose was to convince people to believe in Jesus as the Christ, not to record a timeline of Jesus’ life. Yet it is also possible that Jesus may have cleansed the Temple two times, and it does seem like this is the more likely case.
In any respect, despite Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple, the daily selling of animals for sacrifices and money-changing did not cease, except temporarily. These were vital functions so that the proper sacrifices and offerings could be given.
Sometimes, this scripture has been applied that no purchases should be made within the church, such as the sale of books from a visiting preacher or music from a singing group. To get around this, some have resorted to “donations” of the amount equivalent to what one would pay to purchase such items.
In other cases, some churches may forbid garage sales, etc. being held on their premises.
The real point of Jesus’ actions and teaching, however, was not to forbid the exchange of money for goods or services on church property. Rather, Jesus sought to restore the proper purpose of the Temple: to be a place where people commune with God.
The question we must ask ourselves, then, is: in our practice of worship, do we put any obstacles in the way, intentionally or unintentionally, of people who are seeking God?
Heavenly Father, help me in my worship to connect with you deeply. May I not put up distractions that would draw my attention, or the attention of others, away from you. Amen.