When one reads Mark, one gets the idea that Jesus took only one trip to Jerusalem. The event of the temple cleansing happens after the triumphal entry. Jesus comes into Jerusalem and is hailed as the “one who comes in the name of the Lord” (Mark 11:9). Jesus comes into the temple, looks around, then takes off to Bethany with the disciples for the night (Mark 11:11). When Jesus comes back north, he enters Jerusalem and curses a dying fig tree. Mark’s narrative continues:

Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” (Mark 11:15–17).

When one reads John, one gets a different impression of when the temple cleansing happened. Instead of depicting Jesus as cleansing the temple toward the end of His ministry, Jesus cleanses the temple at the beginning. The cleansing occurs after the miracle at Cana, which John describes as Jesus’ first sign (John 2:11). Jesus and His family then go down to Capernaum for a few days (John 2:12), and then as the Passover approaches,

. . . Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (John 2:13b–17)

What do you make of the difference in placement between John and Mark? What do you understand to be happening in the way John and Mark place this event in their gospels?