Photo by ronnieb on Morgue File.
Here is the second installment for the commemoration of Holy Week. Again, each day I will make a post with Scripture, a word on the context of one of the particular pericopes, an application for our lives and a prayer at the end. I pray God’s Holy Spirit uses it to bless you this week and center your heart and mind on the sacrifice and victory of Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Monday: (Mt. 21.18-19; Mk. 11.12-14—Jesus returns to Jerusalem from Bethany, cursing a fig tree along the way: Mt. 21.12-13; Mk. 11.15-17; Lk. 19.45-46—Jesus arrives in Jerusalem and cleanses the Temple: Mk. 11.19—Jesus again leaves Jerusalem to spend the night in Bethany.)
Jesus in the temple seems natural enough. After all, where would you expect to find God but in his temple? Jesus had been there many times before. Early in his life, when Mary and Joseph discover he is not with their party, frantically look for him, finally finding him teaching in the temple. Jesus’ reply to his parents concern is succinct: Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house? (Lk. 2.49)
Jesus going to the temple to discuss the Torah or to teach theology is expected; but, what about his presence there on this Monday of Holy Week? Jesus does not go there to discuss theological doctrines. He does not go there to listen to the reading of Torah. He does not even go there to debate the scribes and Pharisees. Rather, we see Jesus in full-motion action. He drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple.
Here he displays divine anger and zeal over keeping his Father’s house pure. These buyers and sellers, these money-changers had corrupted the temple. They had made it about money, about business. Not only that, but they were taking advantage of those who were in need of doves and the like for sacrifice. They were inflating the prices and lining their pockets by greed.
Jesus had witnessed the scene many times before. Now, during this last week of his earthly ministry, Jesus decides to confront them. He drives them out of the temple and overturns their tables and seats. What a scene this must have been!
Does this scene fit the imagery of the meek and mild rider of a donkey only a day before? Does this seem out of character for Jesus to you? When you read the account, are you surprised by his actions?
I am sure many would answer in the affirmative to many, if not all, of the above questions. But, when we think about it a little more, perhaps it is not such a surprise after all. The temple represented the presence of God amongst his people. If you go and re-read the OT accounts of the tabernacle and the building of the temple, it is obvious that it represents God’s presence and blessing in the midst of the people.
But these money hungry merchants and dealers had made this holy place a den of thieves. This place that represented the presence of God had been turned into a place of greed and avarice. The temple was to be a place of prayer and worship; instead, it had been transformed into a place of unscrupulous dealings and dishonest trade. The poor and outcasts, the very ones the Law instructed to be provided for, were being taken advantage of and mistreated. What a stench it must have been in the nostrils of God.
What about in your life? Are there any tables that Jesus has need to overturn? Is there anything in your life that Christ wants to drive out? Is there any crevice, any piece of your heart that is unclaimed for the name and glory of Christ? Remember, the apostle Paul teaches us that, as believers, our bodies are now the temples of God (1 Cor. 6.19). In what shape is your temple? Is it a place of prayer and worship? Is it a place of consecration unto the King of the universe or is it filled with practices and ways that are a stench in the nostrils of God?
Jesus’ means of overturning your tables, your sacred cows in your heart and life is by way of Holy Spirit conviction and heartfelt repentance. When was the last time you prayed the prayer of the psalmist, Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Ps. 139.23-24)
Oh Lord, my God, search me with your holy light and see if there be any spot or space within my heart not dedicated to you. Lord, I present afresh my body as the temple of your Holy Spirit. I confess that I am yours. I pray that my temple would be clean of anything that would grieve or hinder the Spirit’s work in me. I confess I am prone to cluttering your temple with things that are not godly or edifying, of these I repent. I give you full charge of my life, clean me and renew your servant. May my prayer ever be to be wholly yours. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit I pray, Amen.