Jesus sees that the Temple is practically unavailable to the Gentiles and that they are segregated and discriminated against. It was in the court of the Gentiles that Jesus’ actions took place. He drove out those who sold animals and birds and other commodities and turned the tables of the money-changers, who changed the pilgrims’ Roman and Greek money into Palestinian and Tyrian coinage (Mk 11, 15). Jesus also prohibited the use of the Temple court as a thoroughfare. It is likely that Jesus cleared only a limited area of the Temple court and that his action was a prophetic and symbolic gesture against the commercial activities and the cultic life of the Temple.
More than the cleansing of the Temple, which is bracketed by the narrative of the cursing and withering of the fig tree, must be understood as a prophetic act foreshadowing the destruction of the Temple. It is in this context that the significance of Jesus’ teaching about the Temple (Mk 11, 17) also becomes clear.