Monday of Holy Week - Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Jesus Cleanses the Temple.jpg

"When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, 'Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!' His disciples remembered that it is written: 'Zeal for your house will consume me.' The Jews then responded to him, 'What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?' Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.' They replied, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?' But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person." - John 2:13-25

Can you imagine what the disciples felt while this was going on? How embarrassed they must have been by the actions of Jesus! They had not been with him very long; they did not know him very well. They had been attracted by the amazing things he said and did. They believed with all of their hearts that Jesus was the expected Messiah. They had not worked out all the theological puzzles that they must have raised in their minds, but they were committed to following him.

And yet, the first thing he does is to embarrass them with this uncalled-for activity.

Imagine going into the Temple in Jerusalem, during the week of Passover. These festivities leading up to the Passover celebration had been practiced for decades; and without any appeal to authority, Jesus takes it upon himself to drive out money-changers, pour out their money, drive out the animals, and even force out the people with a whip!

The disciples were highly embarrassed. But they were probably also fearful of what the authorities would do about this flagrant challenge to them. They knew these self-righteous Pharisees would not let Jesus get away with this. Perhaps the disciples even felt a little anger at the Lord himself for being so unsocial, for being so uncooperative with the establishment. Yet, knowing who he was, they may have felt reluctant to judge him.

But as they watched him do this, there came flashing into their minds a verse from the 69th Psalm. The psalm describes the suffering and the agony of the One who was to be the Messiah. There came into their minds this one verse, “Passion for your house (God’s house) has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” (Psalm 69:9) Jesus wants the disciples and others to know that what is being done inside of the Temple, God the Father’s house, angers him to the very core, and so He cannot help but to act. There came for the first time, perhaps, the quiet realization in these disciples' hearts of the divine refusal to put up with inward impurities. They began to understand that God does not compromise with evil.

This touches one of the great paradoxes of our Christian faith. Throughout John's Gospel we will see plainly how anyone can come to Christ, no matter what his background, no matter how far he has gone wrong, no matter how evil he has been—murderers, prostitutes, swindlers, liars, perverts, drunkards, self-righteous prudes, bitter, hard-hearted cynics, religious hypocrites, proud self-sufficient snobs—anyone who realizes there is something wrong in his life, anyone who wants to be free can come to Jesus. As Jesus tells us in Mt. 11:28, “Come unto me all you that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

But now the disciples understand, perhaps for the first time, that if you come to Him, be assured that Jesus is not going to leave you the way you are. He is not going to settle for clutter, compromise, extortion and racket, whatever may be defiling and corrupting the temple courts or YOU. He may leave you alone for a while. Many young Christians have misunderstood that. Because he brings us in love and he deals with us in patience, we think that he is going to let us get by with some of the comfortable but wrongful habits we have built into our lives. But he will not.

If we mistake that delay for acceptance, we are in for a surprise. If we refuse to deal with what he puts his finger on, one day we will find him coming with anger, with a whip in his hand, and we will find all of our immorality is driven out whether we like it or not.

How awesome that in Christ we are made the dwelling place of God's Holy Spirit! This Lenten season and especially this Holy Week, are we complicit with His rigorous cleansing of His holy temple? Are we ready to be cleansed and made into His image?

Please pray with me…

Lord Jesus, please cleanse my heart of all that defiles, so that it may be a house of prayer that is pleasing to You. Amen.
Apr 15 2019