My House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer
It is Monday of Holy Week. Jesus clears the temple of merchants.
Sunday is coming.
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers 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.”
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”
And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there. -Matthew 21:12–22
Jesus begins his busy week riding into Jerusalem. That was yesterday. Today, he continues his work by going to the temple. At this time of day the business of Jewish worship of God has begun. The temple wakes up early and people are bringing all their livestock to get their booths set up so people can come and purchase their animals. There are birds in cages, livestock, and many other animals. People are shouting their wares for sale and men looking over the animals. Money is changing hands.
This is quite a different sight than the utterly dependent on God worshipful people in the desert. When God’s people erected the tabernacle in the wilderness they were utterly dependent on their God. The presence of the Lord dwelled with his people.
Now the process of Godly worship had been streamlined. You didn’t have to deal with an animal all year and bring it on your journey. You show up purchase your animal walk it in and hand it off. This is a people no longer utterly dependent on God. This is a people that have figured out the system to do their service to God as quickly and easily as possible. This has become a brief and probably uncomfortable exchange between the people and the Creator of the universe.
Jesus, knowing true worship and closeness to the Father, sees this and he drives them out of his Father’s house. Imagine how the Son of God felt, knowing that true relationship with the Father meant being utterly dependent on him! The temple was a place of prayer and worship; where the people of God are to worship God fully. And they had made it… a market!
If someone came into your house disrespected your family and stayed, what would you do? You would probably ask them to leave, right? Now think of how much more it means when it’s the Creator of the World’s house. God is meant to be worshipped!
This also shows Jesus’ compassion because in the midst of driving all these robbers out he begins healing the needy. This shows God’s heart for people. Jesus makes time for the people that come to him needing healing. He isn’t far off like the priests. He is here in among the people healing them and caring for them.
On Monday of Holy Week, Jesus has caused quite an uproar in Jerusalem and he doesn’t plan on stopping.
As individuals, we have to think:
- Do I pray and worship God to check it off the list or to worship him to be in his presence today?
- Am I dependent on God today?
- Is my worship streamlined?
- Is his house (my body) a place of worship?