After cursing the fig tree, Jesus moves on to the temple and as He approaches discovers that it is polluted with moneychangers and animal vendors. Imagine the scene. Thousands of people have come from far away to celebrate Passover and to perform the rituals that are part of Passover. In order to do that, they need to offer animal sacrifices in the temple, but traveling with animals is cumbersome so they come intending to buy their sacrificial offerings when they arrive. To accommodate them enterprising vendors have set up their stalls not just as close to the temple entrances as they can, but in the temple compound. Men are shouting for people to buy from them, and their competitors are shouting louder and longer to get attention for their wares. Animals are bleating, bellowing, and cawing. Animal waste is filling the air with noxious smells, and all around is the chaos and confusion of an outdoor market in the height of tourist season. But wait, there is more! The temple would not accept Roman coinage because Roman coins were profane. Thus eager moneychangers are on hand to change Roman coins for the “holy” temple coins, and of course they add to the ruckus in an attempt to attract customers so that they can also make a nice profit. In short, the sounds, sights, smells and feel at the temple that day was anything but reverent and holy.
The interesting thing about this story is that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record how Jesus chases away the vendors, but not one of them depicts Jesus as angry. The anger is something we readers assume. But think about it. There are probably scores of vendors and moneychangers at the temple and yet not one of them fights back. If He attacked them with anger it would normally incite anger in them. But instead they seem to leave without a fight. Could it be that because He of the premeditated, composed way He disperses them their own hearts are inflicted with guilt and they leave?