July 21 - Christ Clears the Temple

Saturday, July 21, 2012

July 21 - Christ Clears the Temple
Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46; John 2:12-16

There’s something fascinating about reading the different versions of events in the four Gospels.  Each author tells you the story, but in their own way.

The first is found in Matthew.  It is only two verses long. Jesus entered the temple area, drove out all those who were buying and selling, overturned the tables of the money changes and the benches of those who were selling doves.

In Mark we see the same thing as what is found in Matthew, but there is one little addition: he wouldn’t allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.

Luke is quite terse in his retelling of the story.  All he says is that Jesus drove out those who were selling.

John has quite a bit of detail that differs.  He tells us that Jesus found men selling cattle, sheep and doves in the temple courts, as well as some sitting around exchanging money.  It is from John that we learn Jesus made a whip of cords, not only driving the people from the temple, but the sheep and cattle as well.  He yelled at those who sold doves and scattered the coins from the money changers all over.

There was a lot of excitement in John’s retelling of the story.

But, the thing that all of them relate is Jesus’ disgust with the behaviors of the people.  They did not see the Temple as anything but another location in which they could profit from sales.  The three Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, tell us that Jesus quoted from Isaiah 56:7, stating that His house would be a house of prayer and then from Jeremiah when he said, ‘but you have turned it into a den of robbers.’

I suspect that many people in Jesus’ day were thankful to be able to find a sacrifice readily available before they entered the Temple.  It would have been quite convenient for them.  Money changers were there to exchange coins of the realm (there were a lot of different types of coins struck throughout the region) into coins that could be used throughout Jerusalem.  This was also convenient for travelers who came to the temple to offer sacrifices.

But, it was the wrong place.  Jesus tried to teach the people that day, that the temple for the worship of the name of God was not a place where common things like buying and selling took place.  It wasn’t a place where livestock were stored and money was exchanged.  This was a place where people worshiped and prayed.

Think about the woman, Anna, who spent her days and nights worshiping and praying at the temple.  Her activities were those which lifted up and glorified God.  Oh, that all our activities would glorify God, those we participate in throughout our days.  We are the temple of God.