April 3, 2023
Tossing The Temple Tables
“When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and He stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. He said to them, ‘The Scriptures declare, My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have turned it into a den of thieves.’ When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill Him. But they were afraid of Him because the people were so amazed at His teaching.” (Mark 11:15-18)
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all include accounts of Jesus driving out merchants and money changers in the Temple, making it difficult for people to enter and worship the Lord. It may be difficult to imagine Jesus knocking over tables and chasing people out of the Temple, yet that is what happened. When Jesus says, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations,” He is quoting Jeremiah 7:11 where the Lord speaks through Jeremiah and says, “Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken.” Jesus considered the Temple a center of worship for all people but it was being treated as a sanctuary of greed.
Often people see any anger displayed as wrong, but Jesus had a righteous anger upon seeing His Father’s house defiled for profit. The merchants were creating barriers between the people of God and the worship of God. This “righteous” type of anger happens when someone is angry about what makes God angry. As people, this type of anger is sometimes difficult for us to learn because we most often relate to sinful anger. This type of anger is not focused on glorifying God, but on selfish motives. James writes, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” (James 1:19-21)
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke don’t only tell us of Jesus driving out the merchants and money changers, but they also show what the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry will be like. Jesus knew that cleansing the temple would upset the Jewish religious leaders even more. He knew what would happen in a few short days. He knew He would be arrested. He knew He was about to be crucified. Even so, Jesus continued to honor, glorify, and obey His Father.
FOLLOW UP ACTIVITY
Would you rather be like the selfish merchants and money changers who were distracting others from the worship of God or like Jesus, having the courage to seek the truth and to stand for righteousness while clearing the way for the worship of God? Of course, most of us will answer that we want to be like Jesus. Think about why you would answer that way and then pray to the Lord, expressing your desires, and asking Him to help you become more and more like Jesus. If you’re leading your family through this devotion, walk through this Bible story once again, helping everyone understand the true motives behind Jesus’ actions. Then, pray together as a family.
PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, help me to strive to be like You in all that I do. Help me to never block the way of people trying to worship You. In the name of Jesus, Amen.