Summary: Could it be that it is us who keep people from coming to Jesus? Just like the crowd obstructed the blind beggars from coming to Jesus, or the disciples from letting the children come to Jesus, we as Christians tend to pose obstacles to come to Jesus!
The blind men want to see Jesus. We know from Mark that one of those blind men were named Bartimaeus, and he had been blind all his life. First thing you see when you open your eyes is Jesus. I think that would be a wonderful thing!
But we see that the crowd rebukes them. This is like the people who brought the children to Jesus, but the disciples rebuked them. And here the crowd was trying to push the blind beggars away from Jesus. But Jesus stopped and He healed them.
If you want to come to Jesus there will be people who will oppose you and try to hold you back.
The money changers were in the temple and they were there because of two primary reasons.
1. There was a temple tax that everyone had to pay. If you want to pay the temple tax, you cannot pay it with the Roman or Greek coin, but with the temple money. So you had to bring whatever cash you had and transfer it. There were these transfer booths where these exchanges took place. They had these set up around the outer court, the court of the gentiles.
2. You would need to buy a clean animal to make the sacrifice. So you had to go in and transfer your money, because all of the animals in the temple are considered to be clean. According to Josephus, you buy an animal outside of the temple, and it is clean and spotless, but when you bring it into the temple, the priest is sure to find some problem with it. So you had to buy an animal that was stamped by the priest as clean, worthy for sacrifice. But you might pay just Rs.10/- for a dove outside, and spend Rs. 100/- for the same dove approved by the priest inside the temple!
People were being financially exploited for the desire to come into the presence of God to obey His commands.
The other issue that Jesus is so angry about is the court of the gentiles was the place where anyone from anywhere could come. The place of worship had become a house of profit. A refuge had become a trap. The blind and lame were traditionally kept from the inner courts. But Jesus receives them and heals them.
Once again, children come to Jesus. The religious leaders are indignant because the children are quoting Psalm 11823 the stone that the builders rejected has become the capstone. The LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
It is a misuse of Scripture to quote this verse and apply it to whatever situation you choose. I have seen wedding invitations and they quote this verse -- it is the Lord's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes. If you are getting married to the Messiah, and it is the second coming of Jesus and you say this verse, then it's appropriate.
It refers to the Messiah, rejected of the builders, who became the stone upon which the Church was to be built. THAT was the LORD's doing. IT is marvelous in our eyes. Nothing else compares or fits that description.
READ Psalm 118:24-26 - This verse is also often quoted out of context. The entrance of Jesus is coming into Jerusalem -- that is the day the Lord has made and we will rejoice in it. The next verse -- Lord, save us -- it means, hosanna!
Jesus came to the blind men, He came to the city, He came to the temple; the blind, and lame, and the children all came to Him and He received them, but he left the religious leaders.
Jesus came to the people who needed them. But He left the religious leaders, and that is how this whole section ends.
According to Josephus, the crowd was about 3 million people in Jerusalem. Imagine people taking off their coats and placing it on the floor. They also take palm branches. And if you look at the crowd, there was a very high excitement the day Jesus entered Jerusalem.
So as He enters Jerusalem, cleanses the temple and heals all these people, I think there are several lessons we can draw from these.
1. If we want to come to Jesus there will be opposition.
John Stott was the pastor of All Saints Church in London. I had a chance to meet John Stott while I was in London. He died last year. He is really credited with starting the evangelical movement in England. Before that movement was started, about 60-70% of the clergy did not believe in the fundamentals of the biblical faith. And by the time John Stott died, more than 80% of the clergy believed in all the fundamental teachings of the faith.