Summary: This is the account of Jesus clearing the temple. The questions we will ask today are, "What would Jesus do if He came into our church and looked at everything?" and "What would Jesus do if He came into our lives and looked at everything"? He IS here!
Mark 11:1-11, 15-19 (Please open your Bibles so you can read along)
Jericho to Jerusalem – 18 miles south rising 3,325 feet in elevation
It was along this road that the parable of the Good Samaritan is situated.
So, let’s go ahead and read the Scripture for today – Mark 11:1-11, 15-19
This week the Scripture readings came under the heading of
“Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King”.
And, we love to read about the colt of a donkey, and the cloaks over the donkey and on the road and the palm branches and the proclamations of praise for Jesus but today let’s look at another part of this story.
Mark 11:11 NIV
“Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, He went out to Bethany with the Twelve.”
For the first fifty years of my life I attended the Church of The Nazarene in Owego, NY and I remember getting ready for Christmas and Easter. At a minimum we would put on a cantata and often a full dramatic production with the choir in the gym. There were months of preparation and practice and staging and props and costumes. It was fun and exhausting and could even be disappointing if everything did not go well.
I remember one Christmas drama when the live donkey decided to fertilize the stage during the solo of Mary the mother of Jesus. And, of course, the donkey brayed just to make sure no one missed the event. Mary, however, never missed a note!
Now, I know that the preparations for the feasts and the sacrifices that were going on when Jesus “went into the temple courts … and looked around at everything” were entirely different from what we did in preparation for the holy days at the church in Owego.
But, I wonder what Jesus would think if He came into our church at Christmas or on Resurrection Sunday or any time when we gather.
Would He see that everything is pleasing in His sight?
What would He think about the seating being in concentric semi-circles instead of straight rows?
What would He think about the decorations?
Are they pointing to Him and bringing attention to Him and glory to Him or to us?
What would He think about the messages on the church sign?
Are they trivial or meaningful to those passing by? Do they honor Him?
What would He think about the music we sing? Does it point our hearts to Jesus and worship or does it draw attention to the praise team?
Does it honor Him or does it try to pump up false emotions?
What would He think about our SS classes? Would He find us focused on Him and His Holy Word or the hot topics of the day?
Would He find us to be a church that faithfully and diligently cares for the weekly tithes and offerings or would He find us to be wastefully squandering His resources?
All these questions give us something to think about don’t they?
Now, as we get back to today’s Scripture we see that Jesus was NOT pleased with what He saw when He went into the temple and looked around at everything. We know this because the next day Jesus went back to the temple and took some very decisive actions!
Mark 11:15b-17 NIV
“Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves …”
“… and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as He taught them, He said, ‘Is it not written: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations”? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
Now, why would Jesus call such a setup a den of robbers? Certainly the priests of the Temple in Jerusalem would not allow such a thing, would they?
From the time of Moses the law stated that three times each year all adult Jewish men were required to gather at the Tabernacle for offerings or at the Temple after it was established in Jerusalem.
Because of this ordinance Jewish men from all over the Roman empire would come to Jerusalem for the feasts and to offer sacrifices.
But, what if you lived a long distance away? What if you only lived 20 or 30 miles away and you wanted to bring a first born bull from your flock? Now, remember, you are most likely traveling by foot. Have you ever tried to lead a young bull or even a sheep or a goat for twenty or thirty miles? It wouldn’t be easy if it was possible at all.