Summary: Individual followers of Christ are Jesus’ "house" - His dwelling place - making Jesus’ cleansing of the temple also a call to personal holiness.
April 1, 2007
Mark 11:7-11 (NIV) 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" 10 "Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!" "Hosanna in the highest!" 11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Here we see the King of Kings, Jesus, for the first time really accepting the praise of His subjects, though there’s much evidence that few really understood what was happening that day. We see Him being warmly received by the crowd. But this was just the start of the most significant week in human history. Though Jesus was worshipped this day, the week didn’t end there – it was just the beginning.
Interruption – have actors walk through the auditorium, selling stuff, and taking a “shortcut” through the auditorium, right in front of the stage.
Now, how many of you, assuming you didn’t figure out this was staged to make a point, how many of you would think if something like this really happened this morning, that is was incredibly inappropriate at best? Maybe rude? How about sacrilegious? Well, apparently, you’re in good company, because Jesus had a similar reaction in His first recorded public act after the Palm Sunday reception He got along the road.
In verse 14, we get a hint of what’s to come following Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The first place Jesus went was to the temple.
The place He called His Father’s house when He was 12 years old (Luke 2:49). Verse 11 of Mark 11 says He looked around at everything. What do you think He saw – why is it important that He looked around at everything? We find out why it’s important what He observed, because of what’s recorded when Jesus came back to the temple the next day, and what happened then.
Apparently, what Jesus saw when He looked around provoked Him to anger. Jesus cleared out the temple twice. John chapter 2 records a similar episode:
John 2:13-17 (NIV) 13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!" 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me."
Because of when it takes place and the details present, most scholars believe this was a separate incident. So we see that twice Jesus cleared out the temple, for the same basic reasons. Now, Jesus didn’t get angry often, and His anger is nothing like our anger. His anger is always a righteous anger. His anger isn’t the selfish anger we have when we get cut off in traffic, or when somebody wrongs us or insults us or hurts us in some way. The only other time it’s recorded that Jesus was angry is in:
Mark 3:5(NIV) 5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored
So, it seems Jesus was angry at stubborn hearts, hearts that refused to believe, or hearts that refused to listen, and He was angry when those stubborn hearts interfered in some way with the true worship of a Holy God. It’s important for us to examine, because Jesus got angry so seldom, we need to understand what prompted His anger.
So let’s look at what happened the next day, the first day following Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem in what we call Holy Week.
Mark 11:15-17 (NIV) 15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area 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, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 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.’"