My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17).
Jesus would not put up with some things.We know about his compassion for the hurting and his outreach to the forgotten. But he has little patience with religious people who use religion to hurt others. By taking a whip to the money changers, he revealed the emptiness of the Israelite system of worship. God always intended that his temple in Jerusalem should be a house of prayer for all nations. Even though it was uniquely the Jewish temple, all nations were invited to pray there. But no prayer could take place because the profiteers had completely taken over the outer courts. They made their money charging exorbitant fees to buy animals for worship and to exchange money into the special temple currency. Naturally, they marked up prices during the “high season” around Passover.
It was a crook’s paradise. It was easy money because the cheating was done in God’s name. Jesus despised what these profiteers were doing. Injustice is always wrong, but injustice in the name of God is doubly evil. He took a whip, waded into the crowd, and overturned the tables. He ran the money changers out of business.
I read an article by an author who offered a wry observation on human nature. Anything that can be corrupted already is; we just don’t know how. Experience suggests that he is probably right. After all, the Bible says that “all men are liars” (Psalm 116:11). That doesn’t mean everyone lies all the time, but it does mean that lying comes easily to all of us.
Monday of Holy Week is all about cleansing. This strange story shows us why Jesus had to die. It was not enough to overturn the tables and drive the money-grubbers out. The hearts of the people must be changed. For that to happen, Jesus must die. Now Jesus turns every believing heart into a temple where he reigns as Lord. Through him, the weakest believer enters the presence of God.
Don’t miss the message of this passage. Jesus loves us so much that he will overturn the tables and shake us up so that once again our hearts belong to him.
What a Christ we serve!
He loves us too much to leave us as we are.
Shake us up, Lord Jesus. Overturn the tables of greed, sloth, pride and lust. Do whatever it takes so our hearts will be fully in tune with you. Amen.
PS Click here to sign up for the free email sermons