The outer court of the temple was a massive area.
Out of town pilgrims needed somewhere to change their money into local currency, they needed somewhere to buy the sacrificial animals, there were businesses that were trading legitimately.
Even this trading had fallen into the hands of the profiteers who held more to profit than worship. The kind of people who find opportunity in every situation to rip people off and overcharge with extortionate prices.
Have you ever wondered where are the disciples in all this?
They are mentioned as having arrived with Him in Jerusalem but they aren’t mentioned in this episode, not a word about what they were doing whilst Jesus was driving out those who were buying and selling.
What were they thinking?
Were they waiting to see if “this was it”. If this was the moment that Jesus would declare that he was the Messiah.
That the revolt would finally start?
Get ready lads it’s time for the revolution. With the Temple cleansed the people will rise up against the hated Romans. Often the emphasis has been on Jesus wanting reform of the system, wanting to purify the Temple.
Jesus’ problems with the Temple were so much bigger and more fundamental. In the Temple he “acts out” a parable of judgement. A judgement on what the Temple has turned into.
Jesus challenges the religious authorities by telling them that they are wrong. That they have gone down the wrong route. The charge against the Temple is that it has forgotten what it was there for.
The Temple was never intended by God to be exclusive. It was never intended to feed a clique. Rather the people of God were supposed to feed the world.
The Temple was supposed to be there for the whole world.
People who would be welcoming, not just welcoming people who were seen as “acceptable”.
No wonder the disciples were confused.
No wonder they kept quiet.