John, The Gospel of Grace (9)

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” John 2:13-17

The very place that was to be a place of worship and sacrifice to God had become a flea market. Worship and prayer and praise to God had been reduced to commerce.

For the merchants it was good old capitalism. It was an excellent location to turn a quick buck. Lots of people were in Jerusalem for Passover and there were throngs of ready buyers who were willing to purchase an offering at likely high prices. The “money-changers” didn’t have God on their minds at all, they were there for one thing, to make money.

Those visitors to the Temple from all across the known world, and also from Jerusalem, should have been there thinking about God and praising him for the deliverance of their people long ago. Every Jew knew the story. But, apparently they were no more godly than the merchants. It was easy to enter the temple court, quickly buy pigeon or a lamb, sacrifice the animal, and check that box as “done”.

People have not changed very much have they? How many people every Sunday, attend Sunday School and “church” (worship), eat a cracker, drink some juice, mouth some words to a few songs, put some token amount in the passing plate and check off the box, “done”? Jews attend synagogue each Saturday and many go through the ancient rituals and that few moments at the temple is unfortunately the only time during the week when they think very much about God.

This story of Jesus driving out the greedy, ungodly merchants should be a warning that God has not changed his mind about half-hearted worshipers who are only going through the motions. What those people were doing was religion, and God was not pleased. Our worship and adoration of God should be from the heart,  in the Spirit, with our minds set on Christ and pleasing him.

In the gathered churches across the globe there are possessors and professors. There are devoted disciples of Christ and there are impostors. Don’t think you can fool God. He knows his own.

Oh how we all need Christ! Every one of us desperately needs God’s grace as expressed in the person and work of Jesus for sinners like us. We should determine that our worship will be from our hearts to the glory of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. He is so worthy of far more than traditional motivation, religious ritual, and sham Christianity.

Royce Ogle

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