Jesus entered the temple courts 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.’”
This appears to be the second time that Jesus entered the temple area and “cleansed” it from ungodly activity. John describes an occasion in like this that occurred at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, but the details are somewhat different (see John 2:13-22). Some scholars feel that these are descriptions of the same event from a different perspective and that John tells of this event at the beginning of his Gospel to show that God’s authority to judge was present in Christ from the start of his ministry. However, it is quite likely that Jesus had to confront this situation in the temple on more than one occasion since this activity was common in the temple area. Jesus’ strong actions show that hypocrisy, greed, selfish interest, immorality and disrespect in God’s house should have no place in the lives of those who identify with Christ. In fact such behavior will bring God’s justified anger and judgement. Christ is Lord (the Leader and authority) of his church, and he demands that it be a “house of prayer”.
This event, referred to as the cleansing of the temple area, was described as the first great public act of Jesus’ ministry (John 2:13-22) and the last great public act of his ministry (Matthew 21:12-13; Luke 19:45-46 and Mark 11:15-17). Stirred by a strong but justified anger, Jesus forced from God’s house those who were destroying its true spiritual purpose. Jesus’ concern over the activities that took place in the temple are continues for what takes place in his churches today.
Christ’s greatest concern is for holiness, which is moral purity, spiritual wholeness, separation from evil and dedication to God, and Godly sincerity within his church. He died to “make her holy, cleansing her…and to present her…holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27).
Worship in the church must be done “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). For worship to be authentic, it must come from a spirit of deep devotion to God, reflecting a life of Godly character. It must be a direct response to God’s Spirit and God’s character. The church must be a place of prayer where people can encounter God and experience his presence in that way.
Christ will judge all who use his church, his message or his kingdom for personal gain, glory or self-promotion.
Sincere love for God and for his purposes will result in an intense passion and enthusiasm for God’s house and kingdom—just like Jesus’ consuming “zeal” (John 2:17). Being like Jesus means refusing to tolerate unrighteousness and spiritual abuses within the church.
All true Christian ministry must take a stand against those within the church who show blatant irreverence and disregard for God’s kingdom and bring disrespect on the Lord’s reputation. Either we will allow Christ into our congregations and services to purify the people and drive out deceit, immorality, irreverence, worldliness, and corruption or Christ will cleanse his church with judgment at his second coming.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Exodus 13:17-15:18, Matthew 21:23-46, Psalm 26:1-12 and Proverbs 6:16-19