The picture of Jesus that the gospels give us isn’t the tame, milquetoast and watered down version that so many have today. A lot of people have created a version of Jesus that is according to their own likings, a version in their own made up image. Perhaps no passage shows the holy zeal and boldness of the Lord quite like the one where we read of Him cleansing the temple. It is an event that seems so contrary to the rest of His ministry. After all, Jesus said in John 3:17 that “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” So why such a shocking display of judgment in the temple?
The reason is that Jesus was confronting the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. The temple had been reduced to a ‘den of thieves’ who were profiteering off of the sincere worship of others. The whole system had become corrupt. The money changers had turned the Court of the Gentiles into a place where money could be exchanged and animals could be purchased. What had begun as a service and convenience for visitors to the temple had turned into a lucrative business. The dealers jacked up their prices, and no one could compete with them or oppose them. The result was that the Gentiles had no place to go in the temple. Gentile visitors were kept outside because of the system that was kept in place by Jewish leaders. The purpose of the temple was being undermined by the very ones who claimed to love and worship God. So Jesus exposes their hypocrisy and reveals their real ‘god’ to be money and convenience. His response is worth our careful attention: “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you’ve made it a den of robbers.” Mark’s account says, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations.” God wanted Israel to be a light of hope for the nations of the world, but they had failed in that mission. Therefore, God sent His own Son into the world for that very purpose.
How tragic it is when the church is reduced to endless meetings, pointless programs, and shallow social events to pacify immature Christians rather than the mission outpost the Lord intends for it to be! What does Jesus want in His house? He wants prayer offered up in the Spirit. He wants His house to be made up of redeemed people from every nation. He wants His Word to be powerfully proclaimed so that it results in changes lives. And He wants praise and worship lavishly poured out as a witness. When these are evident, then we can agree with the psalmist who said, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord!”
For more, read Mark 11:15-19; 1 Timothy 3:15