Reading Time: 6 Minutes
Yesterday, I mentioned that I would approach the remainder of Jesus’ visit to Jerusalem from the point of view of a person who had traveled with Jesus and his followers from Galilee.
Jesus had just entered the city in a procession that resembled a peaceful king’s entrance into the city. The people of Jerusalem did not receive Jesus with the same kind of joy that was present in the crowd of Jesus-lovers who had come from Galilee (Matthew 21.1-11). Below is how I think the person I imagine would have viewed the events.
Resuming the Account
I was completely taken away with Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. Could there be anything more grand than our long-awaited Messiah’s entrance accompanied by adoring crowds?
As we entered the Temple compound, I thought things might settle down. Possibly, Jesus would find a place in the grounds and begin teaching. That isn’t what he did. Instead, all by himself he started turning over the tables of the money changers and driving away people who sell animals and doves (paraphrase of Matthew 21.12).
He spoke so loud that everyone in our area of the Temple could hear him say, “It is written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’;
but you are making it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21.13).
When I was a child, I remember being told about the Prophet Isaiah. He not only spoke God’s word, but sometimes demonstrated it through dramatic actions. I thought about hearing a story about him where he walked around Jerusalem for three years barefoot and with his backside uncovered to show Israel what the king of Assyria was going to do to them (Isaiah 20.1-3).
When we came into the city, I never dreamed that Jesus was going to “speak” God’s word by literally showing us God’s great displeasure with what the leaders were allowing to happen to Israel’s worship.
I expected to see the Temple police or even Roman soldiers come to stop what was Jesus was doing. Instead, all I saw were some blind and lame beggars come to Jesus. Like always, Jesus healed them (paraphrase of Matthew 21.14).
Some children who had walked with us started shouting what we had been saying on the way into Jerusalem. They were really loud and kept on saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” That really did it. Even though the Temple police didn’t come to stop Jesus, the chief priests tried. They said to Jesus, “Do you hear what these are saying?”
Jesus put them in their place, when he quoted from the Psalms and said, “Yes; have you never read,
‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies
you have prepared praise for yourself’?” (Matthew 21.15-16).
After Jesus said this, I guess he had accomplished everything he came to Jerusalem to do for the day. He simply left the religious leaders who were speechless, and we walked the mile back to Bethany to get some rest (paraphrase of Matthew 21.17).
Here some notes to help our understanding what Jesus was doing when he demonstrated God’s displeasure of what was going on with Temple worship.
— The Importance of the Temple – Nothing in America speaks of national pride and importance like the Temple did in Israel. Possibly, the American flag or the White House may rival the Temple, but they only give us a glimpse of its importance to the life of the nation.
For Jesus to disrupt the activities of the Temple, was the final act that sealed the determination of religious leaders to arrest him and crucify him.
— Where did this activity take place? – The Temple complex covered 33 acres. The Court of the Gentiles was in the area that surrounded the Temple. The Sadducees had permitted booths to be set up in something that resembled a bazaar. Sacrificial animals could be purchased and coins could be exchanged into the Tryian coinage that was required for the Temple tax.
— House of Prayer/Robbers Den – Jesus quoted Isaiah and Jeremiah to express God’s intense displeasure of what was taking place with the Temple. Isaiah speaks of God’s desire and Jeremiah speaks of Israel’s problem. As we read Jeremiah, it will be good for us to ask how God views our worship in 2020.
“These I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56.7)
“Here you are, trusting in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, “We are safe!” — only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight? You know, I too am watching, says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 7.8-11)
The Vulnerable – Jesus displayed what is true worship, when he permitted the shouting children to exclaim praise and healed the lame and the blind. He provided a dramatic contrast between his actions and that of the religious men who controlled what took place within the 33 acres of the Temple complex.
Application and Prayer
When I pray through this passage, there are some questions that I ask God to show me about myself. Below are four questions that are put in the form of a prayer. If God leads you, please join me in this.
(1) Dear Jesus, what do you want to clean out of my life?
(2) My temple, that is my attitudes and actions, is to be a house of prayer. Dear Jesus, is it a house of prayer to your standards, or are there adjustments that need to be made?
(3) Dear Jesus, as I read the Jeremiah passage, what do want to say to me?
(4) Dear Jesus, please give me eyes to see the vulnerable people in my life. Also, please show me what you want me to do with them.