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Clearing the Temple

Bad-tempered or respectful?

by Kirstine Davis

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider why Jesus was so angry at the state of the Temple and what this story can teach us today.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need to be familiar with the script in the ‘Assembly’, Step 5.

  • Optional: you may wish to have a dictionary available to look up the meanings of the words respect and reverence.


  1. Ask the children, What is “respect”?

    Listen to a range of responses.

  2. Ask the children, What does reverence mean?

    Listen to a range of responses.

  3. Reverence is defined as deep respect for someone or something.

    Respect is defined as a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities or achievements.

    Respect means thinking and acting in a way that shows others that you care about their feelings and their well-being.

  4. Explain that you want the children to think about these words as they take part in today’s story.

    Explain that in the story, Jesus gets upset with some people who are in the Temple. In Jesus time, all Jewish people were expected to go to the Temple in Jerusalem to perform certain rituals as part of their religion and to obey God’s rules.

    The Temple was considered to be a place where people would worship God, so it was a place of deep reverence. However, the people in today’s story weren’t using the Temple in this way.

    Explain that you want the children to join in with the story by performing the following actions and noises. 

    When the children hear the following words, they should perform the associated actions:

    - Temple: put their hands together to look like a roof
    - money: shout, ‘Ka-ching!’
    - Jesus: shout, Hurray!

    Split the children into three or four groups and assign a noise to each group:

    - birds: ‘Coo, coo - one coin for 2’
    - lambs: ‘Maa, maa – 4 coins for a pair’
    - bulls: ‘Moo, moo – 6 coins will do’
    (optional: food: ‘Food for sale’)

  5. Tell the story of Jesus clearing the Temple by using the script below.

    Well, there I was in the outer court – Im a MONEY changer, you see, and that part of the TEMPLE is for everyone. The TEMPLE is where we go to pray and meet God . . . well, it’s supposed to be like that. Only Jewish people can go into the inner TEMPLE, but the outer court is for everyone: Jews, Romans, Gentiles, tourists – anyone! Its where you can swap your city coins for TEMPLE coins – money that can only be used in the TEMPLE.

    Now, we MONEY changers all agree on how much we will swap city MONEY for. We buy the TEMPLE money from the priests: one city coin for one TEMPLE coin. However, we can sell the TEMPLE coins to the people for as much as we want. Sometimes, we can get three city coins for just one TEMPLE coin! We can make a lot of MONEY in this way.

    I make lots of MONEY!

    Anyway, its always really noisy here. Some people sell BIRDS, some sell LAMBS and some sell BULLS. Oh, and of course, where there’s a crowd, theres always someone selling FOOD.

    Lots of people come here. Some come to praise God and some come just to look round the amazing building. Some people come to worship God, so they need to buy an animal to make a sacrifice to God. Thats where I come in . . . when the people need to buy an animal for the sacrifice, they need TEMPLE money to do it.

    If theyre poor, they might buy a pair of BIRDS. If theyre a bit richer, they might have enough money to buy LAMBS. The really rich ones might even buy a BULL. On top of all that, everyone needs to buy food, of course.

    Well, one Sunday, we were all busy as normal when suddenly there was a huge noise outside. People were cheering (CHEER!) and shouting, ‘Hosanna! (HOSANNA!) and none of us could work out what was happening. Then, JESUS arrived at the entrance on a donkey (HEE-HAW, HEE-HAW) and marched straight into the TEMPLE. He looked around at us swapping MONEY and selling BIRDS, LAMBS, BULLS and FOOD. He was clearly very unhappy. In fact, JESUS was angry, really angry!

    He started shouting, ‘This is God’s house!’ and marched around, knocking over a BIRD cage and opening the gate around the LAMBS. They escaped and began to eat the things on the FOOD stalls. He knocked over tables and the MONEY spilt all over the floor. Of course, the BULLS got upset, too, which was pretty scary. Imagine what would have happened if theyd started charging around!

    It was chaos. JESUS created a right stir and we were all really cross. (Let me see your cross faces!)

    We had to pick up all our MONEY off the floor. The BIRDS had all flown off, but some of the LAMBS were recaptured. It made me think, though: was JESUS right?

    Pause to allow time for thought.

    Have we missed the point? 

    Pause to allow time for thought.

    Now I trade more fairly. I don’t add on extra money so that people have to pay more than they can afford. And do you know what? People still come and buy from me. In fact, even more people buy from me now because they know that Ill be fair and won’t cheat them out of lots of money.

    I changed because JESUS made me realize what a TEMPLE was really for.

Time for reflection

Tell the children that it is the end of the story, so they can stop doing the actions.

Ask the children if they think that Jesus was right in his actions.

Listen to a range of responses.

Ask the children the following questions.

- What was the Temple for?
- Why do you think Jesus was angry?
- Were people showing respect for the Temple?
- Were people showing respect for one another?
- Were people showing God respect?

Listen to a range of responses.

Ask the children the following questions, allowing time for reflection after each.

- Do we show respect to the places that we visit?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- Do we show respect to others in our actions and with our words?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- Do we show respect to God and respect for peoples religions and faith?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Dear Lord,
Help us to understand that everybody is important.
Help us to show respect to all people in everything we do and say.
Help us to respect places.
Help us to respect you.

Publication date: April 2019   (Vol.21 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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