How dare you?!”
That was the indignant question the pompous religious authorities put to Jesus after he wove his now-famous whip of cords and drove the animal-sellers and money-changers out of the Temple.
“Show us a miraculous sign,” they demanded, “to prove that you have the authority to do what you’ve done here today!”
When Jesus answered, his reply was more for his disciples than it was for his interrogators: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
“It’s taken forty-six years to build this temple,” they replied, “and you’ll raise it up in three days!?”
They completely misunderstood, of course, but they were quite willing to use this statement against Jesus at his trial. The Apostle John explains that the Lord was talking about the “temple of his body” (2:21) and says that when Jesus was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said, and “they believed.”
“Who do you think you are?” the authorities demanded, but by his actions our Lord had already answered. He was the Son of God consumed with wrath at the perversion of worship purveyed by religious profiteers. He was the Son of God angered by the disrespect shown in the holy courts of his Father’s house. He was the Son of God loved by the Father and endowed with all of the authority of the King.
“Who do you think you are?” Jesus was and is the One whose death on the cross would buy our pardon and whose resurrection life would fill us with God’s power.
“Who do you think you are?” He was the priceless and perfect Lamb of God, but there was no “sheepishness” in his defiant act as he angrily herded out the greedy sellers of overpriced, and far from perfect, sacrificial offerings.
This Lamb of God was also the Highest of Priests who would give his blood to open the way for his people into the Most Holy Place itself. He was God’s very Son upsetting the money-changers’ tables and disrupting the profit and the power of the Temple authorities who worshiped only themselves.
Had they been willing, Jesus would have cleansed not just the Temple that day but the lives of those in charge of God’s house, but they would not be cleansed, and they would have no part with Christ. Before long, they would conspire to destroy the “temple of his body,” and three days hence, the most glorious Temple of all would be rebuilt.
What an odd picture though! “Religious” men who had no real relationship with the living God stood near the house of God demanding of the Son of God, “Who do you think you are?”
Maybe the most important question, though, is the one that confronts each of us: Who do we think Jesus is? No answer but, “The very Son of God and Lord of all!” is good enough.