Matthew 21:12-13 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
This is the last week of Jesus’ life on earth. Every moment of this week drips with meaning and passion. Jesus will stay in the immediate area of Jerusalem for the next 5 days until, “It is finished.”
How does our Creator kick-off His last week on earth? Jesus has every right to spend this day relaxing. He could focus on saving His energy for the cross. Jesus, however, has something more pressing than His own comfort. He wants to give us all a very clear message. Jesus pays the temple a visit.
For centuries people came near to God at the temple. In order to make a sacrifice for your sins you needed to give the priest a lamb. The innocent lamb would then symbolically take your sin. The blood of the lamb, as it is being sacrificed, would pay for your sin. If you were too poor to afford a lamb, you could purchase a pigeon.
As Jesus walked into the temple on this day he was filled with righteous anger. Jesus was furious with the jacked-up religious nonsense happening at the temple. People were not allowed to bring their own animals for sacrifice. The animals had to be purchased by the people running the temple. The animals were much more expensive at the temple than in the countryside. In addition to the animal prices being super high, the temple only allowed you to buy the animals with temple money. How did you get temple money? Well, you had to exchange your perfectly good regular money for temple money. Converting your money to temple money, of course, came with additional transaction fees. People had to pay extra money to then buy the extra expensive animals. The poorest of people were being robbed as they simply desired for God to forgive their sins. This didn’t sit well with Jesus.
The Height of Love, Jesus, spent the beginning of this week taking care of business. He entered the temple and let his actions do the talking. The One who originally designed the temple now drove the crooks away. He flipped over their tables. He flung the temple money as far away as possible. Even the lowest of people will have full access to God. Jesus picks a fight with anyone keeping people from God.
Jesus makes the statement, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Jesus wants prayer. He wants us speaking with Him. He wants us near to Him. He doesn’t want to take our money. He wants our presence. Our attention. Our affections.
At the beginning of this Holy Week it is very clear Jesus is not here to keep things business as usual. Jesus is communicating a very clear message. He will not stand by as religious systems are set up to make it nearly impossible to come to God. At the end of this week Jesus will purchase our souls for God. Jesus overturns the tables because He is a jealous lover. He is a relentless pursuer.
Jesus made a fool of himself but he didn’t care. He did whatever was necessary to remove what was keeping people from God. He will continue this week to do whatever is necessary to bring people nearer to God. Jesus could have easily looked at our sin and simply walked away. What height of love do we see as Jesus is driving out the robbers? Drink this in. Let it change you. Simmer in this truth. We witness an incredible height of love as we see Jesus driving away anything keeping us from Him.
What is keeping you from drawing nearer to your God today? Pray. If your life were laid out on several tables would Jesus come and overturn any of them? If so, repent. Let the Spirit show you tables in your own life for Jesus to turn over. Be convicted of anything Jesus needs to overturn in your life then let Him do it. He is in control. He is good. He loves you. He really loves you. He refuses to let you stay apart from Him.
Let the words of Psalm 139:23 consume your thoughts today, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!”