Summary: The church ought to be a place of joy, inner peace, for the worshipper. There are, however, "joy-stealers." We ought to find joy in His presence and in His Church!
Evangelist Herman E. Wesley III
FULL OF JOY...IN HIS HOUSE!
Luke 19:45-48 (New King James Version) All Scriptures NKJV
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
45 Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”47 And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, 48 and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him.
Before we go further, I think it necessary that I share with you a bit of the background of this very familiar text.
This is the second time that Jesus cleared the temple, if you look back at John 2:13-17. In this setting, the Bible would have us to know that “Jesus entered Jerusalem and entered the Temple. Always on a divine mission, Jesus went to the temple for a specific reason—to drive out the merchants from their stalls. These "merchants" were the people who sold goods to worshipers. People came to the temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices. The temple was run by the high priest and his associates. All adult male Jews were required to go to Jerusalem for three annual celebrations: Passover in late spring, the Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths) in the fall, and the Feast of Weeks in early summer. God had originally instructed the people to bring sacrifices from their own flocks, according to Deuteronomy 12:5-7. The religious leadership, however, had established four markets on the Mount of Olives where such animals could be purchased. Some people did not bring their own animals and planned to buy one at the market. Others brought their own animals, but when the priests managed to find the animal unacceptable in some way (it was supposed to be an animal without defect, Leviticus 1:2-3), worshipers were forced, or manipulated, to buy another.
Not only that, but now a marketplace was set up in the temple area itself, in the Court of the Gentiles, the huge outer court of the temple. The Court of the Gentiles was the only place where Gentile converts to Judaism could worship. They could go no farther into the temple because they were not "pure" Jews. But the market filled their worship space with merchants so that these foreigners, who had traveled long distances, found it impossible to worship. Because both those who bought and those who sold were going against God’s commands regarding the sacrifices, Jesus drove them out.
Jesus told them, in no uncertain terms, why he was so angry and why he acted as he did in throwing these merchants out of the temple. He quoted from Isaiah 56:7, explaining God’s purpose for the temple: a place of prayer. The merchants had turned it into a den of thieves. Their treatment of pilgrims who had traveled and needed to count on them for service, their exorbitant rates, and their cheating of the customers had made them no better than thieves hiding out together in a "den." But this "den" was God’s temple—no wonder Jesus was angry! It is against this backdrop that we are compelled to speak today on the subject of “Full of Joy...In His House!”