What a great day for me. I went to the fitness center this morning and had a shorter workout than usual. This afternoon I ran some errands and then spent some time working outside. It was great weather and the dog kept me company. Thursday of this week travel to Atlanta to spend the Easter holiday with Stephanie and her family. We are looking forward to the trip.
BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… Then Jesus went into the Temple and began to drive out the merchants, saying to them, “It is written in the Scriptures that God said, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer.’ But you have turned it into a hideout for thieves!” Luke 19:45-46
The first actions of new crowned King or elected official in our day, are usually designed to make a statement. Such was the case as Jesus rides into Jerusalem with the shouts and praises of the people still echoing off the walls of the city.
Jesus’ first actions are not to teach or heal, but to retake “God’s House” for its original purpose. Like many things what began as a practical activity to serve pilgrims coming to Jerusalem for the Passover or to perform regular temple duties had become the center of attention. What could have been facilitated outside of the Temple grounds, was a dominating presence on the hallowed site. God’s House had been turned into a flea market and financial center.
Mark’s gospel is more specific in describing Jesus actions, “Jesus went to the Temple and began to drive out all those who were buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the stools of those who sold pigeons, and he would not let anyone carry anything through the Temple courtyards.” Mark 11:15,16
We see in Jesus words, that is was just not the activity, but the advantage that was being exerted over people that was at the root of Jesus rage. People were not being served, they were being taken advantage of; “…you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
Jesus declaration was, “My Temple will be called a house of prayer for the people of all nations.” (Mark 11:17) The main activity, the primary focus of God’s House was to be prayer. Mark adds “for all nations.” This once again underscores that fact that God was not just the “god of the Jews.” He is the Creator God, who is the Lord of all the earth and all people. When you came to the Temple, you came to honor God and seek Him, not enter the business district.
After this, Jesus began to teach daily and heal people. “Every day Jesus taught in the Temple.…The blind and the crippled came to him in the Temple, and he healed them.” (Luke 19:47; Matthew 21:14)
These actions of Jesus put the religious leaders over the edge. “The chief priests, the teachers of the Law, and the leaders of the people wanted to kill him, but they could not find a way to do it, because all the people kept listening to him, not wanting to miss a single word.” Luke 19:47-48
Some would say that the motivation to kill Jesus stemmed from the disruption of their “money making machine.” I would submit it was much more related to Jesus challenging the spiritual authority of the religious leaders. After all, they were the ones who were true to the Law of Moses. They were the authority in teaching the people. Now, “some one greater than Moses” was in the House. He was healing people. They were clinging on every word He spoke. The Scribes and Pharisees stock was diminishing. They could have made an adjustment to deal with “the money issue” but losing their power over the people was a different matter all together. They needed an opportunity. They would get that when Judas decided to betray Jesus and when they leveraged influence on the local Roman government to have Jesus killed.
Paul writes to the Corinthians and reminds them, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1 Cor. 3:15) When Jesus is present among God’s people, He sets our priorities aright. It is easy for “other things…important things…practical things” to get us off track. That is why the apostles in Acts said, “We…will give our full time to prayer and the work of preaching.” (Acts. 6:4)
When Jesus is “in His house” we will want to talk with Him (prayer) and we will want to listen to Him (teaching of the Word). He sets our priorities aright, and points our focus to the “basics.”
During this Holy Week, this is a good time to “get back to the basics.” Prayer and God’s Word. You may want to review the Bible passages that relate to the events of this week. You may want to listen to some teaching on the internet or radio that will give you insight into the life of Jesus and His plan and purpose for your life.