Summary: Does Jesus cleansing the temple have any real significance for us so many years later? I believe this story acts as a spiritual MRI, if we let it.
Jesus Cleanses the Temple—Part 2
Welcome back to the story of Jesus cleansing the temple. Last time, we all walked away with a renewed sense of the call of God on the life of each of us to reserve and preserve a holy time and a holy place to encounter and worship Him.
We saw that all thought and all work should be focused heavenward. We saw that worship is not to become a matter of commerce or of marketing, but of being in humble awe of Almighty God, making worship and prayer the pervasive atmosphere of our meeting in His name.
We are going to do thing in a completely different order today. We are going to hear the Word of the Lord first today. After that, we will enter into the music portion of our worship. As I have said before, all we do here is worship, not just the music time. So, we will begin our worship with the Word today. You will understand a little better as we progress.
Today, we are concluding our study of this story in Matthew. Matthew has left out some of the pertinent details that Mark and Luke include, like the vested interest in the graft that the sons of Annas, the high priest, had. Yet, in the next three verses, verses 14-16, Matthew gives us a picture in contrast between the greed of the one group and the innocence of another.
That other group consists of the blind, the lame, and the children. Now, those three classes of people are not usually considered regular people. They are not the ones our minds normally turn to when we hear about praising and worshiping God. They should; for it is in their innocence and in their humble circumstances that they are the ones most open to who Jesus is. And you see, that really is the point of all of this—who Jesus is, I mean.
I find it dramatic that Jesus switches so quickly from vengeful justice to healing mercy—all in the same place and in a matter of a moment. This shows us the very nature and character of God: while He is never tolerant of injustice, He is always simultaneously filled with mercy and compassion.
Our text tells us, “And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.” A moment ago, Jesus was purging the temple of what was improper, inappropriate, even sacrilegious. Now He engages in demonstrating what the house of God is supposed to be used for—as a house of prayer where the power and goodness of God are manifested.
One old commentator writes it this way: “The Church or chapel in which the spiritually blind and the lame are not healed has no Christ in it, and is not worthy of attendance.” What say we, then? Are we an assembly where these things take place? If so, then we shall continue on. If not, then either we get right with God or we abandon this gathering together that we do here and disperse into fellowships where they do. What say you?
In verse 15, Matthew tells us that the children were praising God, calling out and shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!" The word used there is krazō. It is a verb that signifies “calling out with a loud voice filled with deep emotion.”
Think about that for a moment. How welcome would a bunch of children be here, shouting out praises to Jesus? How welcome would anyone be here, shouting out praises to Jesus when they felt moved by His Spirit to do so? When was the last time I heard even an, “Amen!” from someone here? I think we have become too stuffy and too filled with conventionality.
Know what I think? I think that we have become too much like the chief priests and the scribes who became indignant with all of that carrying on and became indignant about it. I think that we have lost that child-like innocence and comfortable awe of Jesus.
I purpose before you here today that we will either recover that, be less filled with our own sense of propriety and stuffy sense of ourselves, or we will abandon this venture and disperse. I cannot in good conscience allow any fellowship that I lead to slide into pride and prejudice and stiffness. I’ll either shake it up, or I will leave it in the hands of the devil where it belongs.
Strong words? You betcha! Wait until you read Jesus’ own words for a shriveled up, fruitless tree, though. You’ll see that what I am saying I am honor-bound to say if I am to be counted worthy as an undershepherd of His.
Before we get to that, I want to look at the reaction of the chief priests and the scribes. Did they join the children in worshiping Jesus? Absolutely not! Instead, they became “indignant”, as Matthew describes them. That word is very powerful in its description of their attitude.