Summary: As Christians we are to be the temple of God - with the Holy Spirit residing in us. What do we place on our tables? Would Jesus be tempted to take out the whip?
Imagine if you will the most perfect church setting. Perhaps it is Christmas eve – and the sanctuary is decorated beautifully. Very warm and welcoming.
This is a special time.
Sure, you can come to church any Sunday, but this time is set aside for wondrous events and much-expected miracles.
As you arrive there is a man standing at the entrance to the parking lot offering you a parking pass.
The pass will cost you $2.00, but your car will be safe for the entire service. No, I’m afraid you can’t park on the street today – it’s been closed off in honour of the service.
Entering the foyer you find warm and welcoming greeters offering you an order of service. Only $2.00, these brightly coloured and informative brochures are a must. In fact, you are unable to enter the sanctuary without one.
As you walk past, one of the greeters notices that you have your favourite bible with you. “Is that an official New Westminster Citadel Bible sir?” you are asked. “No? Well, you may leave yours with us for a small $2.00 storage fee. There are daily rental official Citadel Bibles available for only $2.00 at the table in the sanctuary.”
As you settle comfortably into your padded pew an usher quietly comes up and asks you, “Excuse me Sir, have you paid the centre aisle tax? Could I see your receipt? If not, you will have to move to the outer edge or the very rear. If you would like to come with me I can arrange a centre aisle tax payment, perhaps as a direct withdrawel for you – it’s only $2.00 per week.”
The service begins and it is time for the offering. The ushers pass the offering plate and look upon you with scorn as you place your cash in the plate. “Excuse me Sir, is that Canadian money? I’m afraid only official New Westminster Citadel currency is acceptable as an offering here.
Didn’t you read your colourful and informative brochure?
Please proceed to the table in the rear where you may exchange your cash – today’s rate is only $1.35 for every Citadel buck.
The service concludes with a call to the mercy seat. Overwhelmed with a desire to show your love for God, you come forward to this place of prayer.
A mercy seat counselor eagerly greets you. “Welcome to this place of prayer Sir. How may I help you? For a prayer of praise and worship, please deposit $2.00 in the available basket. For a prayer of confession and repentance, $4.00; for a salvation prayer, $6.00 and for complete holiness, today only, $8.00.”
Kleenex is complimentary.
How would you like to attend that church?
How would Jesus react upon entering that church?
You see, in many ways that’s exactly the kind of scenario that Jesus encountered at the Temple in Jerusalem during that pass-over celebration so many years ago.
His father’s house is a place of prayer – and Jesus came to pray.
And when Jesus entered the outer courts – reserved for the Gentile worshippers – he saw a marketplace.
Practically a zoo!
And he got very angry indeed.
You know, I’ve heard people say that Jesus “lost it” that day – that he completely lost his temper and his cool – that he snapped!
This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Jesus became angry at the abuse and injustice, but He never loses control. We don’t serve a God who “snaps” when things are going askew.
We’ve likely all lost our temper at some point and done something we regret. We may have physically struck out at someone or punched a wall.
We may have said hurtful things to people we care for.
We may have been rude and judgmental toward someone.
We’ve likely all done things in anger that we wish we could do-over.
Jesus never lost control.
Jesus did not leave the temple that day and ask Himself, “What was I thinking? That was way over the top!"
No. He knew exactly what He was doing the whole time.
He chose this method of direction and instruction for the children of God who were so very, very wrong.
I want to try to explain something this morning – so I’m going to walk through this scripture a bit.
You see, this is not an isolated historical event – interesting for it’s time but irrelevant today.
It is very significant to us here today that Jesus became angry in the Temple – the House of the Lord – God’s dwelling place for the people of Israel.
This was the only place where humans could interact with the living God at that time. And even then only selected humans – the High Priests – could enter the Holy of Holies to commune with God.