October 28, 2021
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers” (Matthew 21:12-13).
It is interesting to note that Jesus ended His ministry as He began it. His ministry began at of Passover, and it ended at Passover 3 years later. His ministry began with the cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem (John 2:11-12) just after He turned water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana. It ended with His cleansing of the Temple a 2nd time (Matthew 21:12-13).
Jesus cleansed the temple of the money-changers and merchants because of His anger and disgust at what man had made of God’s house. It was always to be a house of prayer. The Tabernacle, and the Temple, were designed and constructed for man to encounter God, to worship Him, to commune with Him, to fellowship with Him.
Down through the ages the Temple had become less the house of prayer and more a religious bazaar, less a house of God and more a house of merchants. Having cleansed the Temple 3 years earlier, why would Jesus attempt it again? (John 2:15-17) . . . He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!" Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”
Zeal is great energy or enthusiasm in pursuing a cause or an objective. We see demonstrations of zeal in popular sports, business, or politics. Jesus had an intense, extraordinary love and concern for God’s house. His desire was that worship in the Temple be pure, holy, personal, and such as God would approve. But the Temple had ceased to be a place where such worship took place.
Worship was the heartbeat of our Lord. It was His motivation throughout life. It had engaged His entire attention and affection and surpassed all other feelings. There was nothing greater in life for Jesus than to be in constant fellowship and communion with the Father. He didn’t need the Temple for that, but the Temple was the symbol for such worship in Israel. He respected that.
Here’s where we need to stop and reflect for a moment. For Jesus, worship was the great commanding motivation of His life. So should it be for us. High regard for the place of worship was paramount for Jesus. We should highly regard our place of worship as well. We should seek to purify the church of God and keep it pure and undefiled. “It’s just a building,” you say. No, it is the house of God. It is the house of prayer.
“Holy Spirit, continue to cultivate in me a holy respect for the place of worship, knowing it has been consecrated for the sole purpose of lifting You up in prayer and praise. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”