Holy Week with Jesus – Monday

Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling, saying to them, “It is written, ‘AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’ but you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” And He was teaching daily in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people were trying to destroy Him, and they could not find anything that they might do, for all the people were hanging on to every word He said. Luke 19:45-48 (NASB)

According to Luke, Jesus was anything but laid back during holy week. As He entered Jerusalem for the Passover Feast, Jesus looks to the Temple as the place of worship and becomes dismayed with what He sees. Driven by holy zeal Jesus cleanses the Temple for three reasons.

First, the greed that has entered into His Father’s house seen in the selling of animals and other materials needed for sacrifice as well as the exchanging of money. Originally God had commanded that each family bring their own animals for sacrifice. This would make it a more personal experience. With the distance some worshipers traveled this became near impossible, so the religious leaders set up a system of exchanging foreign money for Temple coins and selling animals and the materials necessary for sacrifice. The problem with the system was the exchange rate of the money and the location.

Exorbitant fees and inflated rates of exchange made the religious leaders wealthy but did little to enhance the worship experience of those who traveled from great distances to enter the presence of God. Add to this the cost of the animals needed for sacrifice and worship became an expensive experience as the religious leaders took full advantage of travelers and their need for materials. Jesus quotes two Old Testament prophets, Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11, as His righteous anger drives Him to remove sin from the Temple.

Second, the exclusion of people from the act of worship in the Temple. The money exchangers and those selling animals had set up shop in the Court of the Gentiles. This is as far as gentiles were allowed to enter into the Temple if they wished to worship God. Imagine the noises, the smells and the general chaos Gentiles must endure if they wished to worship God. The bleating of sheep, the snorting of bulls and the fluttering of wings as animals are pushed, prodded and sold would do little to enhance the worship experience for the Gentiles.

Finally, Jesus cleansed the Temple because of His relationship to the Father. Jesus uses the possessive “My” as he exclaims “My Father’s house is to be a house of prayer!” The Temple belongs to the Lord and His relationship to God, My Father grants him full authority to cleanse the temple from sin. This symbolic act foreshadows what is to come at the end of the week when Jesus will go to the cross and remove sin from the world as the Lamb of God. Once again, His Father will grant Him full authority over life and death as He is raised from the dead.

This Holy Week I challenge each of you to look within yourself and ask some very tough questions. How do I bring greed into the church? How do I exclude others from worship? What is the status of my relationship with God the Father? Each of us brings greed into the church when we come to a worship service seeking only for what we can GET from worship rather than what we can GIVE in worship. Yes, corporate worship is a time to recharge and prepare for another long week ahead. But if we seek only to receive, we miss out on being a blessing to our Father in recognizing who He is rather than simply focusing on what He has done for us.

Secondly, we exclude others from worship every time we look at the exterior of a person; what he or she is wearing; how someone wears their hair or heaven forbid, if they are wearing a hat! God has stated clearly, simply and plainly NOT to look at the outside of a person, for God judges the heart of a person. By our standards today I doubt that David would stand little chance of being named king of Israel. He just doesn’t measure up to the clean-cut all-American, well put together hero we envision a king should be! And yet, God overlooked the much more handsome brothers of David stating, “Do not look at his stature.”

Finally, examine your relationship with God and His Son Jesus Christ. You must first accept that Jesus Christ is the Son of God before you can begin to call God your Father. If your relationship with Jesus is cut off then you have NO relationship with the Father. What do you seek in your worship? Are you seeking to spend time on the mountaintop in praise or are you prepared to spend time in true worship, drawing near to God so He can examine your heart and prune dead limbs from your life?

Jesus was anything but laid back this week. He is moving forward with intentionality toward the cross of Calvary where He will complete the work His Father has prepared for Him. Perhaps during this time of quarantine, rather than complain because the church doors are closed and locked, we as Christians, the body of Christ, can begin to cleanse our temple of the sin that has separated us from God the Father; perhaps we can remove the barriers that exist between the church and those who do not yet know Jesus; and perhaps we can reconnect with God the Father through prayer and personal worship so that when the church doors do open, we can return with a renewed heart and passion for worship every Sunday morning.

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