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 (ESV)
There is so much packed in this story of Jesus cleansing the Temple.
This event occurred in the Court of the Gentiles, the outer court which was open to everyone. It was by far the larger temple area, with more exterior space. Jerusalem’s sick and needy would come here and to Solomon’s Porch, a covered area that was on either side of the court’s eastern entryway, to seek assistance. It was also a commercialized environment. Jews traveling from territories that used Roman or Greek monies had to exchange their coins for the Jewish half-shekels to pay their Temple tax. Those operating the tables used this opportunity to profit, exploiting the travelers. And the area was so busy and noisy that there was little room for Gentile believers to meet with God in prayer. The Temple was God’s holy dwelling, and God’s redemptive plan always included the foreigners, the outcasts, you and me!
“I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord,Isaiah 56:6-8 NLT
who serve him and love his name,
who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest,
and who hold fast to my covenant.
I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem
and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer.
I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices,
because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations.
For the Sovereign Lord,
who brings back the outcasts of Israel, says:
I will bring others, too,
besides my people Israel.”
Profiteering, desecration, lack of reverence, and inhibiting the Gentile’s worship … these were the sins that day. Notice what made Jesus angry as He entered Jerusalem. He didn’t go after the godless Roman government – instead He chastised the religious leaders and cleansed the Temple!
Are our church gatherings places that welcome the outcasts, foreigners, and those who know little about the love of Christ? What about us personally, since we are individually and collectively the church? Are we welcoming the outcasts, foreigners, and those who know little about the love of Christ?
Are our church gatherings reverent, promoting prayer, harmony, and peace – or are they loud, noisy, unfriendly, hoping to profit somehow from those in attendance? And again – what about our lives? Do we live quiet, harmonious lives? Are we promoting peace?
Do our church gatherings represent the heart of the Father well? And your life – is it representing the Father well?
Father, You who designed the Temple
To dwell with Your people –
You who taught us that we ourselves –
Are Your temple – You live within us!
May we readily submit to Your cleansing –
Not resisting, but asking You to remove
All profiteering, pride, dishonesty,
Lack of reverence, lack of worship –
Cleanse us, make us whiter than snow –
Fill us with your presence and power
And move us to follow You well!