Summary: Why did Jesus go first to the Temple and then begin to cleanse it? What does he need to cleanse from our temples?
CLEANSING THE TEMPLE
The shouts of Hosanna still rang loudly in ears of the citizens of Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday. A large gathering of people were on hand to see Jesus as he rode into the city as the King of Peace on the back of a colt. Jesus continued down the dusty streets while the disciples and the rest of crowd fell in behind him in a long processional until he finally came to the Temple.
I think that it is worthy to note that it was to the place that was built according to his own design and by his own order and that was dedicated to his worship, where the glory of God shown down upon the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies.
He did not go to the Tower of David which was the stronghold of Zionism in the city to set up a garrison of power. Jesus had no designs to build an earthly kingdom as we mentioned this morning, but he did have great plans for his own house. After all, this was his house and he entered the temple through the Eastern Gate, or the King’s Gate, because he was the King, reigning over his own kingdom.
Upon entering the temple grounds Jesus’ first encounter was with the Court of the Gentiles. This was the area of the temple grounds where Gentiles could come to shop, to pay homage to the God of Israel, or satisfy their curiosity, but they were allowed to go no farther without obedience to all of the ceremonial law.
In the Court of the Gentiles the Jews had set up a marketplace, a mall of sorts, where all manner of sacrificial animals and offerings could be purchased.
It was at that moment that we read what happened next.
Matthew 21:10-14, "And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them."
I have often wondered just what Jesus would have seen that day that caused so much righteous anger to rise up within him?
Surely these moneychangers and shopkeepers were no more frustrating to Jesus than so many of the religious leaders had been on the streets! Why did Jesus lash out with such force against these business people who seemed to be actually doing a service to those who came to worship at the temple?
The one thing that keeps coming to my mind is the scripture in 1 Peter 4:17, "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?"
I think that here we find the key to why Jesus acted the way he did that day.
God’s House is meant to be a house of prayer. This building, this sanctuary is appointed by God, through the hearts of his people to be place where we can come together collectively, or individually, to meet with the Lord and to hear his Word.
The problem was that these business men, those who ran the tables, who bought and sold sacrificial merchandise, had absolutely lost there reverence for the temple and what it stood for.
They had turned something sacred and beautiful into a money-making scheme that took advantage of anyone who came into the temple area empty-handed.
I know that most of you have traveled to different locations for a vacation. It seems that we never go anywhere away from home without making a discovery that we have left something very important at home.
There were a few instances that I can remember where we arrived at a distant city to discover that my wife left most of her clothes at home. Now I ask you, of all the things to leave by “accident” why would it be the clothes that we need? Leave a toothbrush or the shampoo behind, yes, but your entire wardrobe? I have often wondered if they were really left by accident. (I’m only joking. I know her better than that – or do I?)
Needless to say there were no outlet malls or discount stores around and so we were forced to go wherever we could and pay whatever price was posted. We had no choice and to try to get around paying that price would have cost more than just biting the bullet and buying what she needed right then.