Summary: Here we find a troubling passage in which Jesus is driving the money-changers and their customers out of the Temple. What was the problem, and do we still do it today?
Passage: Matthew 21:12-17
Intro: This is a story that we are a little uncomfortable with.
1. because we are a little bit taken aback by the strength of Jesus’ behavior.
2. He is knocking over tables and chairs, hitting people with a whip.
3. if we would be honest, we would almost expect him to apologize after this display.
4. but he doesn’t, and in fact defends his actions with strong words.
5. so we have to ask ourselves two questions in the face of this explosion.
6. what caused it?
7. how does it apply to a group of Gentile believers 1979 years later.
8. because when our Lord talks so forcefully, we need to listen.
9. and in light of this powerful event, we need to ask ourselves some questions.
I. Are We Obscuring or Promoting God’s Purpose?
1. it was just another normal pre- Passover day in the Temple.
2. lowing of cattle, bleating of sheep, cooing of doves, people haggling.
3. Jesus thunders in, drove out “all who were buying and selling” Why?
4. standard response; price-gouging, stealing from the people.
5. only two problems with this theory.
6. first, drove out buyers too. The very people who were being abused get his wrath as well as the abusers.
7. second, his statement in v13 makes it clear that the problem is a discrepancy between what God’s purpose was, and their activity.
8. what was the God’s purpose of the Temple?
9. “house of prayer” – a place where people could talk with God, hear from God
10. and because of the sin problem, which restricts our communion with God, it was the place where that sin was dealt with, however briefly, so that God’s presence might be enjoyed.
11. so the question needs always to be asked of any activity within the Temple, “Is this part of God’s plan and purpose”
12. and in response to the commercialization of the Temple, Jesus’ loud answer was No!
13. because commerce is wrong? No
14. but because commerce in this place obscured the clear picture of God.
15. it was a competing entity in a place where God’s nature was supposed to shine brightly!
16. this same “cleansing” happened in the OT as well. King Josiah went on a rampage!
PP 2 Kings 23:4
17. these idols obscure the glory of God, compete with it.
18. How does any of this pertain to a church without a Temple?
19. God’s presence in the world now much broader, in His people throughout the world.
20. so when God’s people meet, we ask these questions.
21. principle: that which competes with the clear proclamation of the righteous truth of God cannot be tolerated. Why?
22. because it clouds what God seeks to be clear. “If it clouds, it’s not allowed”
23. “what works” is no longer the question. Pragmatism is not our goal.
II. Are We Promoting Reconciliation?
1. now that is what the Temple is not
2. so how about what it is?
3. v14, now “in the Temple”, these blind and lame come to him, and he heals them
4. by action, then, Jesus is making a statement about what is appropriate in the Temple.