The tension is building as the culmination of what Jesus came for is approaching. It is a mix of people welcoming with shouts of, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” and the anger of the religious leaders reaching a boiling point.
Jesus enters Jerusalem during the Passover Celebration. The once a year commemoration of God freeing the Israelites from Egyptian slavery; from passing over the Jewish houses with blood on the doorposts when death came at the door of all Egyptian firstborn sons.
Jewish faithful from all over the world convene in Jerusalem to celebrate, worship, and offer sacrifices. The temple the focal point; God’s presence dwelling in the innermost parts…the Holy of Holies. The city is bustling; visitors everywhere.
Jesus approaches the temple – the house of God, His Father. Though he has seen injustice, hypocrisy, greed, selfishness, and worse His entire life, the scene at the temple fans His anger and zeal.
The outer court, the only place Gentiles are permitted to enter and pray, is consumed by commerce. Booth upon booth set up to sell animals to sacrifice for those who chose not to travel with them or those who had none pure enough to offer. Booth upon booth set up to exchange currency for the temple tax that had to be paid in local currency. At first glance, this doesn’t appear to be a bad thing. It is a convenience for the travelers and a way to support the temple. But that isn’t how it is operating. They charge an exorbitant fee for both, extorting and taking advantage of the people who have no other option. The religious leaders not only approve of this activity, they too are profiting from it. And they are doing it all on holy temple grounds.
They have replaced worship with worldliness and wealth-generation. They have pushed out space for Gentiles to come – the place to evangelize to those on the outside; to show them God’s love and a way to salvation – and exchanged it for a place of business.
Jesus came to cleanse. And on His way to the cross to cleanse us with His blood, He stops at the temple to cleanse God’s temporary dwelling place. He turns over the tables of the merchants and money changers. He calls them out, “My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you make it a den of robbers.”
The holy place of God has taken on the look and feel and attitude of the culture and environment, leaving little room for worship and communion with God. Jesus had no choice but to clean house.
What about the Church at large today? Have we crowded out the paths for non-believers to come and worship? Have we filled the space with individual motives, legalism, hatred, favoritism, leaving no room for others to come and worship?
And on a more personal level, now we as believers are the temple of God. How is our temple looking? Have we squeezed out space for worship and communion with God and replaced it with worldly things? Do we need to clean house to make room for God?
God, please show me where tables need to be overturned in my life. Show me places and things that are crowding out space that should be filled with You alone. Let this temple within me be a place of pure and holy worship to You alone.
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