The Cleansing of the Temple

Good day, I pray that God blesses your meditations on the ministry of His Son as He went to the cross.  We know that this is spiritual food for believers every day of our lives, but I hope considering our present circumstances, that we find these thoughts precious and uplifting.

Events that took place on Monday are related to us in Matthew 21-25, Mark 11:20-14:11 and Luke 20:1-22:6.  Today I would like to present some thoughts on Christ cleansing the Temple (Matt. 21:12-17; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 21:37,38).

I will make two comments about the cleansing of the Temple which show it as a purposeful act of judgement upon the false religion of the Jews of Jesus’ day.  First, Jesus comes into the Temple as Sovereign Lord of the Temple.  Just like He is Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28) and He is Lord of the conscience (Mark 7:1-23) and He is Lord of the ministry of service (Mark 10:32-45), so He is Lord of the Temple.  Every aspect of worship confronts us with Christ and culminates in the worship of Christ.  Jesus appearance in the temple is a threat to temple commerce and the life that entire system that had come to define the temple.  Jesus overturns the entire system thereby showing that it was far from (even opposed to) His intentions for it.

What aspects of our religious life have taken lives of their own?  How do we settle into patterns and practices which could stray far from God’s intentions?  These are very hard questions to answer and yet I believe Christ’s cleansing of the temple calls us to consider our hearts and practices and strive to consider why God gave us the spiritual blessings and means He has and how we are maintaining their proper use and purity.

A second thought on this event is the expression of Christ’s wrath and judgment.  Mark 11:16 states that Christ shut down all activities in the Temple – not even permitting the carrying of a vessel through it.  Everything came to a standstill.  This is to prepare for Christ’s words in Mark 11:17, “Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of theives.” This is a quotation from Isaiah 56:7 and it is a judgment upon the parochial misuese of the temple (den of theives) rather than a house of prayer “for all nations.” The people of Israel are judged not just for the misuse of the temple, but for keeping the temple ministry contained to themselves – when there was a worldwide purpose for its existence.  The only way to re-align with this purpose was a complete cleansing and for Christ to go forward with His sacrifical work, which would lead to the nations’ blessing through the Gospel.

Christ’s heart for the world is displayed here as He judges this symbol of Israel’s worship.  What a blessing we have today that God is worshipped in “Spirit and truth” (John 4:24). In Romans 9:22-23 we read of God judging His people in order that He can show mercy on Gentiles – and what a wonder that we may be accepted in prayer and worship, when we come believing in Christ and relying on the Holy Spirit!

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