Summary: Exposition of Matthew 21 regarding temple cleansing
Text: Matt 21:12-17, Title: Concealed Weapon, Date/Place: NRBC, 4/10/11
1. Opening illustration: Tell about the Deut 28:63 thought
2. Background to passage: this is the final week of Jesus’ life. After having made a circuit up through Galilee, across the Jordan, down to Jericho, Jesus has gone up to Jerusalem for what would be His last time. The people received him on Palm Monday, and Mark tells us that he then went home to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus for the night. Then the next morning his righteous indignation took control in the Temple Mount “cleansing the temple” for a second time. All this was in preparation for the crucifixion and resurrection.
3. Main thought: What the high priest had done in affect was the weapon that Satan was using (in the name of “religion”) to keep people from walking with God. And often we follow the route of the Jewish leaders, and place stumbling blocks in our own way to keep people from seeing the real meaning of Easter. So today we are gonna have a little temple cleansing of our own.
1. Greedy (v. 12-13)
1. The area around the court of the Gentiles was filled with little shops that were authorized and licensed by the Sanhedrin. It was called the “Bazaar of Annas.” They sold sacrificial animals and changed money so people could tithe. And the high priest receives a portion of all the proceeds. So most of the religious leaders in power looked forward to the Passover not for the religious emphasis, but because of the money that they will make. It may be that those leaders got into the ministry with good intentions, but the money and the love of it had corrupted their ways and motives. It was said that you could pay up to 10X the actual value of the animal. And the priests (and their authorized agents) were the ones who determined whether the animal that was brought for sacrifice was good enough.
2. Matt 6:24, 1 Tim 6:10, Mal 3:8-9
3. Illustration: me getting greedy with the turkeys, Savages at Christmas: I’m not talking about some 3rd world nation now. Jdimytai Damour, 34, had been hired by an employment agency as a temporary worker at the Wal-Mart store in Valley Stream and had been on the job about a week when he died. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound man died of asphyxiation after being crushed by a crowd the Friday after Thanksgiving. They broke down the electronic doors in frantic pursuit of bargains. At least four other people were treated at hospitals, including a woman who was eight months pregnant. Take a look at your own heart, and you will soon find out what has stuck to it and where your treasure is. It is easy to determine whether hearing the Word of God, living according to it, and achieving such a life gives you as much enjoyment and calls forth as much diligence from you as does accumulating and saving money and property. - Martin Luther, testimony of 90-day challengers,
4. In the wealthiest nation on the earth, we have a problem with money. We are willing to steal from the government, the insurance industry, banks, God, and each other. And even though we think that we are better than these moneychangers in the temple, we are not, because all our stealing is from another. Taxes and insurance rates go up because of people who don’t pay. Families split in marriages and relationships, neighbors don’t speak because someone “stole” my money. Banks go under and have to be bailed out by your tax dollars. Businesses suffer because of unpaid bills. The poor suffer because of legalized stealing with the lottery. And people don’t get ministered to in Tifton and the globe because you have robbed God. If statistics hold true here as in other churches, there are bunch of you who don’t tithe. Some leaders in church, some long time members, and some new believers. This doesn’t have anything to do with needing money here, it has to do with your own spiritual state. You can’t love God and not give. One pastor said, “Don’t tell me you love God if you don’t tithe.” If I as a pastor don’t confront you where the sin lies, I am doing you a disservice. And if you persist in your greed, you will forfeit spiritual growth, blessings, and invite evil and suffering into your life. Do you not fear God? Jesus is attempting to cleanse your heart this morning from your lust and materialism, so you can experience Easter!
Casual (v. 12-13)
1. The sin that is beneath greed in the lives of these religious leaders who were profiting at the expense of worshippers was a casual attitude about faith. The temple was a place of holiness, a place of worship, a place where sin was atoned for, a place were repentance and contrition of heart was supposed to be present. But it didn’t bother the people that they had turned the faith of their fathers into a money-making scheme of religious tradition. There was no fear of God in them. Their priorities of making money trumped the real purpose of the temple. They missed the whole point of their faith! MacArthur says of the temple, “It was not meant to be a combination marketplace, stockyard, and bank where hucksters and charlatans carried out their greedy enterprises under the guise of serving the Lord.” And the scary part is that was probably gradual rather than sudden. First it had simply become religion, rules, and tradition. Then the rules were bent a little, but tradition and religion were maintained. Then real devotion was pushed further away as their hearts hardened a little, and the temptation of a little money on the side reared up. In fact, they may have started it to help others with genuinely good intentions.