Summary: The first thing Jesus did after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem was to clean house. He cleanses the Temple of it’s sinfulness. What can this teach us about the need for purity and holiness in our churches and our personal lives?
OPEN: About 50 years ago there was a great preacher in the Washington D.C. area named Peter Marshall. I once read one of his sermons and found the following description of the scene we just read about in Matthew:
“It is early morning, but already the temple court is a bedlam of activity and noise. (pause…)
Among the tables of the moneychangers, the cages of doves and the stalls of cattle, people are crowding about, chatting with their friends, selecting a dove for sacrifice, getting their money from countries like Persia, Egypt or Greece exchanged into the sacred half-shekel of the sanctuary.
It’s convenient. It’s convenient to buy sacrifices on the spot instead of having to drag them from a distance. It is helpful to be able to exchange money bearing upon it the head of the emperor (a graven image and therefore unacceptable in the Temple) for the statutory half-shekel.
And SO, convenient for all - and profitable to many - the temple huckstering has become a recognized institution.
Shrill voices - arguing - bickering - swearing angrily - the metallic tinkle of coins as they drop into the moneyboxes on the table…all the signs of greed can be heard... (pause) just outside the Holy Place.
There is no serenity.
No one can pray there.
Suddenly there is a lull in the confusion. Startled at the sudden quiet, we look up to find a strange yet hauntingly familiar figure standing between 2 of the gigantic stone columns.
His face burning with intensity.
His face magnificent in its wrath.
As He steps forward with a resolution and firmness born of the terrible conviction within Him, there is a look in His eyes before which men break away.
His lips are drawn into a thin line.
Stooping down, He picks up some binding cords which the merchants have discarded.
And deftly He knots them into a whip.
There is something in His attitude, - in His eyes - in His face - in that ominous silence in which He stands watching, which makes men look at Him with an uneasiness in their eyes
And then… the full fury of His wrath breaks.
In a few long strides He is across the court.
Picking up the boxes filled with money—scornfully and deliberately—He empties them on the stone floor... and coins spill with a clatter… rolling off in a 100 direct directions.
Tables go crashing to the floor, and the moneychangers rush to gather up their coins from the filth. In their greed—made all the more frantic because of their fear —they grovel in the dirt, pouncing upon their money screaming in protest as the Man with the whip stands over them.
(pause) And THEN He drives out the terror-stricken cattle. The muscles of His arms stand out like cords; lights dart from His eyes.
Not a voice is heard in protest... not a hand is raised against Him.
Even the Temple guards only stand and watch helplessly
His magnificent figure dominates the scene.
His voice rings out, echoing among the stone pillars…
and sounds like the voice of doom
like the voice of God Himself...
‘It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer but ye have made it a den of thieves.’”