Summary: Let’s examine John 2:13-25, the money changers in the temple and prayer.
Is our priority prayer or money? Whether you are suspicious or selfish or give generously, what is the right use of money in the church?
Purpose: Let’s understand that money will always be a cause for good and evil in the Church.
Plan: Let’s examine John 2:13-25, the money changers in the temple and prayer.
John 2:14-15 Czestochowa in Poland
We arrived at Jasna Góra (pronounced YAS-na GO-ra), the church of the Black Madonna in Czestochowa (pronounced CHEST-o-HO-va) in Poland. Outside were droves of trinket and souvenir sellers. Inside were people praying and a service was going on. It reminded us of what Jesus’ saw in Jerusalem, “And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.” (John 2:14-15) Would He do the same in our churches today?
Someone in a group touring Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome asked their priest tour guide how much it cost. He replied that it cost much of northern Europe, referring to Tetzel’s scam, selling indulgences as a church building fundraiser, and a cause of the Protestant Reformation. Financial abuse has occurred throughout history and the church has not been immune. When bishops take more from local churches than the tenth of the tenth taken by Moses, then one wonders why the New Testament church is more burdensome than the Old. When bishops and televangelists live in palaces while others starve at their doorsteps, one wonders what happened to the religion of Jesus.
The Church usually handles money well. The Gospel is our eternal investment. But the Church also invests in temporal needs, building hospitals, homeless shelters, orphanages, soup kitchens, educational institutions, working for justice and reconciliation, and teaching people how to improve their lives. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is rated A+ by CharityWatch. Salaries are not paid from donations, but by our Conferences. Hence all of donations go to alleviating human suffering in more than 80 countries, including the United States. Donors choose where their contributions go. UMCOR provides humanitarian relief when calamity disrupts communities and the most vulnerable need help. UMCOR spends 100% on disaster relief and international development.
John 2:16-17 Legitimate Anger
There is righteous and unrighteous anger. Proverbs advises, “Make no friendship with an angry man” (Proverbs 22:24). Yet, God is occasionally angry at evil. Clearing the Temple Jesus said, “Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” (John 2:16-17) Remember, “whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” (Matthew 5:22) Jesus was righteously indignant that the place of prayer had been corrupted by profit making. Righteous anger is legitimate. Remember what Paul said, “Be angry, and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26-27)
God’s Anger is Love
Why do we get angry when a gunman attacks a school, precious children or the elderly are abused, or terrorists line up innocent people and cut their throats? Is it because within us is some measure of love for others? Perhaps we can understand then how a loving God is also an angry God? If God knows the long-term consequences of sin to hurt and destroy us, He hates sin and is angry when we choose to sin. If God created marriage as a blessing, He hates what destroys it. If God knows that only He can provide us true blessings, He hates the false idols and lies of counterfeit religions.
John 2:18-19 Jesus’ 3 Days
After He had driven out the money changers in the Temple, the Jews asked Jesus, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:18-19) Sometimes, interpreting Jesus literally instead of figuratively is to be like the Jews. They thought He meant the literal temple that took 46 years to build. He was speaking of his body raised three days after his crucifixion. Even his disciples didn’t fully grasp this until after his death. Large parts of what Jesus taught was not literal, but metaphor, parable and hyperbole.
Matthew 6 Three Pillars of Lent
The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6) mentions the right practice of almsgiving, prayer and fasting. These are the three pillars of Lent. Though we especially focus on them before Easter, they are basic Christian principles all year long. This is why Jesus was so angry with the money changers in the Temple. They were focusing more on money than prayer. Lent is a time when we turn away from the marketplace to prayer. We renew our private prayer time where God sees in secret. We give not as some celebrities do to be seen of others, but in secret. We fast, not to be seen of others, but in secret.