Mar27FriMarch 27, 2020
JOURNEY TO THE CROSS - DAY 5
15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.
FOR THE NATIONS
The previous day in Jerusalem had been filled with fanfare for the Teacher from Nazareth as he arrived. The crowds had given him a hero’s welcome and were overjoyed when he lingered in the temple to heal the lame and the blind (Matthew 21:14-15). But that was yesterday. After a night’s sleep in the village of Bethany, Jesus and his disciples headed straight back to the Temple – and its noise.
The temple had first been built through the Lord’s wisdom imparted to King Solomon. Its structure was similar to that of the Hebrew tent-of-worship. There were inner and outer rooms for priests. There were inner and outer courtyards for Jewish men and women. The outermost courtyard was set aside for non-Jewish worshippers. In other words, every person had a place to pray and draw near to the Lord in the temple.
But over the years, things had changed, especially for the Gentiles. The sacrificial system required everyone to bring (or purchase) an animal. The ‘temple tax’ required foreigners to exchange their currency for Judean currency. Since there were no regulations, corruption abounded. To make matters worse, the outer court, reserved for non-Jews, was now set up as a place for haggling. Into this, Jesus walked.
After abruptly shutting everything down, he reminded all within earshot of the purpose for the temple. Business has its place, but not at the expense of prayer. Then, Jesus went further. His quotation from Isaiah 56 emphasized that the presence of the Lord has been made available to everyone – the pious and poor, the Jew and Gentile alike. Ultimately, Jesus’ journey to the cross would replace the necessity for the temple and His sacrifice would be available to all - received by faith.
May we recommit to the importance of prayer, and to the gospel which has been given for all nations. Amen.