Sunday – March 5, 2023
Word On Worship – Sunday – March 5, 2023
And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.”
All of us have owned something we consider very special, something we would not wish to be “defiled” by misuse. Whatever this precious object may be, it could not be as precious to us as the “temple” was to our Lord. John considered this incident one of the more significant actions of our Lord at the outset of His public ministry. Our task is to learn why this is true, and what the temple cleansing has to do with men and women living centuries later.
John does not focus on the way in which these merchandisers go about their business, but rather on where they are conducting their business—in the temple courts. The Gospel of Mark’s Gospel takes up this theme as well, pointing out that “where” these businessmen are doing business interferes with an essential purpose of the temple. The temple was to be a “house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17). The outer courts of the temple are the only places where Gentiles could worship, they were not allowed to pass beyond a certain point (Acts 21:27-30). Can you imagine trying to pray in the midst of a virtual stockyard, with all the noises of the animals and the bickering businessmen? Think of what it would be like to have to watch where you walked, lest you step in something undesirable?
What Jesus sees going on in the temple courts troubles Him a great deal! The place of prayer has become a place of profit-taking. It appears that Gentile worship is functionally prohibited, and I doubt this troubled many of the Jews, who were not excited about including the Gentiles in their worship in the first place. It sounds more like the trading floor of a stock exchange than the outer courts of the temple of God. It smells more like a barnyard than the place where one would seek God’s presence. Jesus enters the outer court of the temple, fashioning a whip from materials at hand and proceeds to drive the vendors all out of the temple area.
Many like to think of Jesus as a “God of love,” who never criticizes, never judges, never condemns, whose calling is to affirm everyone and to make them happy. I must remind you the way our Lord chose to publicly reveal Himself to the world was not by the turning of water into wine, or by raising the dead or healing the sick; Jesus revealed Himself to Israel as her Messiah by His cleansing of the temple. I would remind you that while John the Baptist foretold the coming of one who was the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” he likewise urged men and women to repent, because the Messiah was coming to judge the world. The Jesus of the Bible, the “real Jesus,” is the One who is merciful and gracious to those who trust and obey and the One who will judge those who resist and reject Him.