Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.'” The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’ ?” And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
This portion of Scripture clearly reveals God’s jealousy for the consecration of his temple. That men would conduct self-profiting businesses in this place was an egregious error against its holiness, inciting Jesus’ righteous anger. It is a sobering thought that often jolts me as I come through the church doors on Sunday.
But I am reminded that this passage is not only about buildings.
When the curtain was torn upon Jesus’ death, it represented a closer fellowship between God and man, whereupon His presence would not only rest in structure but within those who would lay claim to salvation through Jesus. We are His temples. Paul puts it this way: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” (1 Cor 3:16-17).”
If Jesus were to walk through our hearts today, what would he find there? Would he discover a house of prayer or a den of robbers? What has “taken up shop” in our hearts that taints our primary business of worship?
Consider that the most crippling weapon in the enemy’s arsenal is the complacency with which we treat the greedy robbers of our eyes, the moneychangers in our minds, and the self-serving businesses of our hearts. Until Jesus ousted these from the temple, they were an accepted part of the daily landscape. I write this tearfully because, as I type, the Spirit is identifying several of these things within me. I pray that he would do this for you as well.
But identifying them is no more a cure than a doctor’s diagnosis. Healing comes in the overturning of thought patterns; the laxative absolving of destructive habits; and the surgical removal of indwelling tumors of sin…which may be just as uncomfortably violent as the scene in this passage. To those who hesitate at prayerfully asking him to do this purgative work, I ask you to read your Bible’s heading for this passage. Is it “Jesus savagely attacks fellow countrymen”? Or “Terror in the temple of God”? Mine reads, “Jesus cleanses the temple”. Purifies. Disinfects. Renews. When Matthew describes Jesus’ acts in the temple, he calls them “wonderful” (21:15). The psalmist understood this and wrote, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” (Ps 119:71). The writer of Proverbs adds, “The Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Prov 3:12).
Note: Each day’s devotional is written by a different member of the GRC family.