Matthew – God’s Purposes
There was that time when Randy and I thought our three children were finally old enough to be left alone for a few hours while we went grocery shopping along with other errands. They were of the age of assuming certain responsibilities such as cleaning their rooms, kitchen and bathrooms while were were gone. They didn’t want to go on these errands but doing their chores while we were gone was not too appealing either.
So, as most kids will do, they put all chores off until the heard the motor of our vehicle pull into the driveway. I don’t know who they thought they were fooling, but we walked into a messy house with three industrious kids working as if they had been working the whole time we were gone. Back in that day we could feel the measure of warmth of the TV and knew it was the focus of their activity while we were gone.
We expected the best but realized that kids at their age have not quite caught the vision of setting all things right BEFORE mom and dad arrive.
Did Jesus know before arriving at the Temple that people had made a mess of His House?
Matthew 21, NLT
Jesus Clears the Temple
12 Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”
14 The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. 15 The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.”
But the leaders were indignant. 16 They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?”
“Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.’” 17 Then he returned to Bethany, where he stayed overnight.
Jesus had opened His ministry with a similar act (John 2:13–25). Now, three years later, the temple was defiled again by the “religious business” of the leaders. They had turned the court of the Gentiles into a place where foreign Jews could exchange money and purchase sacrifices. What had begun as a service and convenience for visitors from other lands soon turned into a lucrative business. The dealers charged exorbitant prices and no one could compete with them or oppose them.
Historians tell us that Annas, the former high priest, was the manager of this enterprise, assisted by his sons. The purpose of the court of the Gentiles in the temple was to give the “outcasts” an opportunity to enter the temple and learn from Israel about the true God. But the presence of this “religious market” turned many sensitive Gentiles away from the witness of Israel. The court of the Gentiles was used for mercenary business, not missionary business.
When Jesus called the temple “my house,” He was affirming that He is God. When He called it “my house of prayer,” He was quoting Isaiah 56:7. The entire fifty-sixth chapter of Isaiah denounces the unfaithful leaders of Israel. The phrase “den of robbers” comes from Jeremiah 7:11 and is part of a long sermon that Jeremiah delivered in the gate of the temple, rebuking the people for the same sins that Jesus saw and judged in His day.
Why did Jesus call the temple “a den of thieves”? Because the place where thieves hide is called a den. The religious leaders, and some of the people, were using the temple and the Jewish religion to cover up their sins.
What does God want in His house? God wants prayer among His people for true prayer is an evidence of our dependence on God and our faith in His Word. He also wants people being helped (Matt. 21:14). The needy should feel welcome and should find the kind of help they need. There should be power in God’s house, the power of God working to change people. Praise is another feature of God’s house (Matt. 21:15–16). Here Jesus quoted from Psalm 8:2.
Jesus used this event to teach His disciples a practical lesson about faith and prayer. The temple was supposed to be a “house of prayer,” and the nation was to be a believing people. But both of these essentials were missing. We too must beware of the peril of fruitlessness.
Our hearts, minds and souls are now God’s Temple where He abides with all who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. If Jesus was to come back, what would He find?
Would Jesus walk into a house (attitude) of prayer with a cleaned up heart of love for Him and for others?
As He walks through our minds, are they humbly repentant and cleaned by Him?
As He resides in our souls, is there room for Him to move around freely, having complete run of the place? What clutter of this world needs to go?
Are we hiding anything from Him? Or are we completely His?
Does praise flow continuously from our lips with child-like faith?
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are God and we are not. You have given us a lot to think about this morning. We are so grateful for Your saving grace because of Your love and mercy. Thank you for saving my soul and making me whole and Spiritually fruitful daily in my walk. It is all about You and Your purposes, therefore all praise and glory, honor and gratefulness goes to You! We are your Temple. May You walk freely in and find us faithful to You.
In Jesus Name, Amen