Passion Week Musings: Jesus displays anger at temple


Today’s thoughts focus on the first then Jesus did upon arrival in Jerusalem. Since he went about his Father’s business, the first place he went was to the Temple. Now the temple was set up as was normal for the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover. There were booths selling animals for sacrifice and booths for exchanging money for “Temple coins.” It seems to me those coins were the equivalent of an arcade token. You could not spend other money in the temple; instead, you had to have the special coin of use nowhere else. Add to that, the merchants were making it easy for those traveling to Jerusalem. They did not have to select a lamb or dove prior to making the trip to Jerusalem. They did not have to tend to it for a week while traveling to Jerusalem. All they had to do was show up, purchase a sacrifice and go on their way. It was profitable and ingenious. It was making it easy for folks to do their duty at little cost to self. So Jesus arrives, sees this grand program all set up in the court of Gentiles (only place foreigners allowed) and comes across this scene, which in my find would be similar to a country fair. If it was today there probably would also be assorted thrill rides somewhere close. So Jesus arrives, gets angry and disrupts the whole scene driving them all away. The portrayals of this event most likely do not even come close to doing justice. Jesus was angry and likely angry for many reasons. The chief reason though is summed up in Luke 19:46B (ESV) “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”

There is a contrast between what God intended for the Temple including the court of Gentiles, and what the process had became. The Temple was about communion and interaction with God with space designated for those not part of Israel to engage in communion with God. The temple was all about facilitating connection with God almighty. Now the feast day and Passover in particular was very important. Instead, it became a big commercial enterprise serving everyone of Israel and all that came to partake. The offered services really in essence made sacrificing easy for you did not really have to bring your own. If you did, most likely it was disqualified as imperfect forcing you to buy one at the temple, which most likely was an animal disqualified from someone else. The whole scene served as huge barrier to people truly seeking to connect with God and follow through with what God required. A time of solemn remembrance and celebration became about either creating an obstacle for genuine worshipers or providing short cuts for those who did not care to give the whole devotion and simply intended to follow through with the duty.

In thinking over why Jesus became angry, it is worth reflecting how we manage church today. The gifts and talents God has given to members of the body are sold just as readily as the goods offered in the court of the Gentiles. We readily depend on what God has given others to aid our growth and communion with God. More often than not we pay for it. We cycle and recycle Sermons, worship music, and teaching usually at a cost. The Gospel is even denigrated to something cheap and easy with no real cost to the individual. The Gospel has become just the frame around which many build their own Kingdoms, separating things from others that is meant for own profit. In a large sense, we have developed a self-involved approach to worship that involves passive engagement with no real true engagement of self. It would be the equivalent of waiting to get to the temple and buying a dove or goat because it is easier. The truth is, the Church as we know it had digressed far away from a fellowship of believers supporting one another to often what is a group of individuals gathered together engaging in corporate worship as individuals. There are people seeking genuine interaction with God and other believers, and there are those who are not. However, we have great barriers between self and others and people all too to sell prefabricated information that prevents true engagement and attachment, creating a barrier between God and us. Far too often there is very little genuine response to God’s reveal reality much less following and acting with dependence and gifting from the Holy Spirit even by those making claims of same. Each of us need to take a look at ourselves and see are we engaging in genuine worship that reflects community and a house of prayer, or do we simply engage in a machine moving money and filling the pockets of others with money? Now it is worth noting that there are those out there following God in spirit and truth and moving beyond the machine around us that professes to aid God’s kingdom but simply places barriers or cheapens God’s grace.

Take time, seek God, pray and ask for revelation of how robbers have been let into or engaged in your own walk with God, for we all have given money and time to thieves. Examine yourself and see are you genuinely seeking God, or after something to simply satisfy and build self? Do we walking in loving God and loving others, or do we simply engage in what is expected and put in some time. Does God daily impact your life? These and many other questions come to mind but all revolve around living surrendered to God or serving self. So two paths are clear, the path of thieves who draw the anger and wrath of God, or the path of a genuine worshiper seeking to come under God’s rule and bring Him glory.

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