Summary: We have become God’s Temple and ought to be a house of prayer.
a. The lens of Scripture is now in sharper focus
b. Jesus travels from Jericho to the east and passes through Bethphage and then Bethany. As He nears Bethphage and the Mount of Olives He gives His disciples instructions regarding a mule. He tells them what to do, what to say when challenged and by what authority He was doing this. He is now beginning to identify Himself to the people as the Messiah. The disciples heard from the Lord and then they obeyed. As a result Scriptural prophecy from several hundred years before given by Isaiah and Zechariah was fulfilled. The disciples put their cloaks on the mule and the people put their cloaks on the ground and wave palm branches. This is no small gathering. This is a rally of thousands of people. Masses of people from Israel traveling from the North and east are coming through Bethany and they are following behind and around Jesus. Jerusalem is only 2 miles away and the thousands of people that are already there hear the commotion and find out that it is Jesus coming and they come out of the city moving towards Bethany to see this great prophet from Nazareth. It was just 3 years ago that someone had asked if anything good could come out of Nazareth. That question has been answered long ago by the widespread news of healing and teaching. The crowds are cheering as Jesus passes by.
c. Location context: The Mount of Olives is east of Jerusalem and is separated by the Kidron Valley. The river of the Kidron valley flows red with blood from the sacrificial animals slaughtered for the Passover every year. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God passes through the valley and enters Jerusalem through the Sheep’s Gate which is where the sacrificial animals are taken to be slaughtered.
d. When Jesus came into the temple area he saw the money changers there and those who were there selling animals to be used as sacrificial offerings for those who had traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover. They were selling animals at exorbitant prices and changing money in order to profit off of the needs of the people. Jesus’ entire ministry was a radical ministry. It went against the teachings of the religious leaders of the day. It went against the socially accepted norms of the day. In this instance Jesus turns over the tables and runs the merchants out of the Temple area and reinforces from the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah that the Temple was to be a house of prayer. It was to be a place of personal relationship with God Almighty. It was a place to worship Him, pray for others and self, and to hear from God. Instead, they had made it into a mini-mall to meet the monetary wants of the selfish and greedy.
e. Today, Jesus wants to do something radical in your life and in the lives of the people around you. I believe that we are losing an understanding of what prayer is and how to pray.
2. Point 1
a. The Temple used to be the place that people would go to pray and hear from God. The Temple was segregated into specific areas where Gentiles could go, women could go, and priests could go. The Holy place was separated from the Holy of Holies, where God resided, by a huge veil and only the High Priest could enter. Jesus made radical change here when during the crucifixion and curtain separating the Holy place from the Holy of Holies, separating man from God, was torn from top to bottom. You and I have direct access to God without the need of any intermediary. Through Christ we receive forgiveness of sin and the opportunity to have a personal relationship with God himself. When asked “Who are you?” few people would respond, “I am the Temple of God” and yet that is exactly what Scripture says that we are.