You have probably heard the expression "turn the other cheek" and may know that the reference is to Matthew 5:39. In this scripture, Jesus is providing an option for the "eye for an eye" approach of giving evil for evil. This is an opportunity to show love to your enemy by forgiving his trespasses. Realize, though, that meekness as a personality trait does not equate that person to everyone's rug mat. Jesus set the example for us to use as a loving, caring person. He also set the example, as is shown here, as someone who shows respect for God and his house.
God's House (John 2:13-16)
The title of this section is "God's House" and it is quite applicable to both the scripture and the poignant example that we will use. Suppose that the recession has eaten into the church funds and you are attending the annual business meeting. Someone proposes renting space in the church vestibule to the local retailers. Even worse, they want to have a "weekly special" announced from the pulpit. The first issue that we should consider is if this preposterous idea would be proposed by a member of God's family. Of course, the next issue is that we would hope that it would not even receive serious consideration from the other members.
Is that example different from what we see in this scripture? It would seem not. If it were conducted fairly was there anything wrong with helping others to participate in God's commandment to sacrifice animals in the temple and pay the temple tax? Not at all. In the above example there is nothing wrong with vendors advertising their wares, but there is a correct place and time. In Mark 11:17, where this story is told by Mark, Jesus quotes Jeremiah 7:11 in saying that they have turned God's house into a "den of thieves." Had this business been conducted at the local market there would not have been any problem.1
Now let's look at the bigger problem with the vendors conducting business in God's temple. Did the temple leaders approve? In answer to that we can ask a better question - would it have happened if they did not approve? The religious elite, the same group of people who demanded Jesus' crucifixion, had their own interests in turning God's house into a marketplace. Were the interests financial? Political? Humanitarian? We will never know because that detail is not revealed in scripture.