The story of Jesus cleansing the temple is found in all of the gospel accounts. John places the story at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Matthew, Mark, and Luke place it at the end.
It may well be Jesus did this twice, but more likely, John has simply rearranged the material. No one should be upset at this thought. None of the gospel writers (with perhaps the exception of Luke) have undertaken to give us a chronological account of Jesus’ life. The writers order their material to best make their point. Since they do not claim to write chronologically, we should not impose that on them.
This is the final week of Jesus’ life and Matthew 21 highlights the opposition of Jerusalem’s leadership. They object to the attention Jesus gets from the crowds, and from the blind and lame who are healed. These are the religious elite of Judaism. These should be the exemplars of the Jewish faith. But they are not. They have their religion. They are comfortable with it. It has been their traditional faith. And it has blinded them to the work of God. Note Matthew’s many references to Christ’s fulfillment of Old Testament passages. Had the leadership been attuned to God’s word, they would not have rejected Jesus. But they were deaf and blind spiritually, rejected the will of God, and are now rejected by God.
Let this be a lesson to us all. Having a religion is not good enough. It must be a faith anchored solidly to the Word of God and open to His work and power.