And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “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
It’s Monday of Holy Week. Jesus is just days away from being crucified. He enters the temple, and in a display of calculated righteous anger, flips the tables of those exchanging currency and selling animals for temple sacrifice. Don’t be surprised at Jesus’ actions here. It’s well in keeping with who he is. As we said at Grace Bible yesterday, Jesus is a a rare combination of boldness and humility. Jesus doesn’t hesitate to wash the feet of his disciples(John 13), but he also refuses to silence those who worship him (Luke 19). He’s humble, not modest, bold, not arrogant.
Jesus had good reason for what he did in the temple that Monday. What should have been a “house of prayer” – a place to approach God in reverence had become noisy and busy.
Jesus said it was a place of prayer “for all nations.” The outer court of the temple, the area that Jesus was in, was suppose to be a place for even the Gentile people to come and approach God. But instead it had become a place for religious people, the Jews, to make things easier for themselves. It had become a self-seeking place instead of a life giving service to people.
The Nation of Israel was never meant to exist for themselves. They were as Gen 12:1-2 says, “blessed to be a blessing”. The temple was by design, a place for those who didn’t know God to have a place to approach Him, but now it’s purpose had been distorted. Jesus wants its to be restored to its original intent. He wants people who have access to God to desire others to have the same.
God has never been unclear about that for his people. Once we have God, and all that he affords to us (justification, forgiveness, love, hope, relationship with Him, His spirit within us, eternity, purpose for life, etc) we can stop asking what’s in it for me, and ask what do I have to offer others. We’re blessed to be a blessing. God changes people from selfish to selfless.
Jesus, was once asked, what’s the greatest commandment? He said, in short, Love God, and love others….Hmm, Jesus? Really? What about more convenience and comfort for us? Nope. What about creating a subculture of moralistic rule keeping, where we talk bad about the world around us instead of lovingly sharing the gospel??? Nope.
How are we doing???? Ephesians 2:19 says that we are now the temple. If people who dont know God come to usi, will they find us ready to share the message of Christ or selflessly pursuing our own convenience.
Is there something in life keeping us from being about the love of God and a blessing to others? Would he flip the tables of our lives?… Of our church???
In Mark 11:18 we see that when the the chief priests and scribes heard what Jesus had said they plotted to kill him. This is a horrific response but you can see why they think that it is rational. Jesus had walked the temple and made it very evident to the people in charge that he felt like their approach to God, and thus their approach to life, was completely wrong. It would seem irrational for the cheif priests and scribes to think of Jesus has merely an interesting man or a good teacher. The men at the temple had to make a decision, would they protect their way of doing things or would they receive Jesus as their authority. It was man’s pursuit of self-righteousness that had the temple in the shape that Jesus found it in, and it would be protecting that pursuit of self-righteousness that would drive the Chief priests to plot and eventually crucify Jesus. A horrible response, but a rational one.
What decision will we make? Will we embrace Jesus and Lord as Savior and die to self and live for him? Or will we wholesale reject him and be Lord of our own life? One thing is for sure, Jesus is not content to be in the peripherals of our life. He did not come and buy us out of the bondage of sin to be a distant voice in our lives, but rather THE VOICE in our lives.
The temple had become a place for selfish gain, it was suppose to be a place for worship of God and a blessing to others.
Our life can become about selfish gain instead of about the worship of God and being a blessing to others. I pray this Holy Week will be a time for us to regain our awe of Christ and what he did for us on the cross, and realign ourselves to worship Him!