John wastes not time in his Gospel account bringing Jesus into conflict with the religious establishment. First Jesus turns water into wine, apparently choice wine that was the best of the party. Then after a little family time, Jesus goes to Jerusalem for the Passover. Upon arrival Jesus goes nuts on the people in the Temple courts selling things. Tables are overturned, people are scolded, and a call to holiness is issued.
As you might guess the religious people of the day were not so happy with Jesus actions. They want proof of his authority to do such things. The only proof Jesus offers is totally missed at the time. The religious people are more concerned with their little religious business than with the holiness of God. It is not until after the culmination of Jesus earthly ministry, the resurrection, that his actions are understood. At the moment everyone seems to miss it.
I wonder if we would miss it. Most of us are in churches that things are pretty patterned. If a chair is out of place, or something is not set quite right, there is a problem. I cannot help but wonder if Jesus would come into our places of worship and turn everything upside down. Better yet, would we get mad at this person, or would we cheer. Many times this passage in John, and in other Gospel accounts, is made to be about the marketplace in the Temple, and the misuse of the temple. There is a component of that, however, is it more about missing God for ritual.
The merchants were not there selling just anything. They were selling the items used as part of the work of the temple. If you didn't have, or some how forgot to bring, your animals needed for sacrificial offering, no worries you could purchase them. Any of the items needed to facilitate the work of the Temple could be purchased at the Temple. While the merchants are an issue, the greater issues is why people are not coming prepared. The trip to the temple had become an empty exercise. Jesus' challenge was not to the merchants, but to the people who were going about their relationship with God in a half-hearted way.
I wonder if it isn't time to allow Jesus to turn the tables in our lives. Are we missing it?