Holy Week Monday
“Cleansing the Temple”
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
Tensions were running high on this Monday of Holy Week. Jesus enters the outer courts of the Temple and observes the frenzy of commerce as merchants and peddlers hawked their wares; animals for sacrifice and money changed for usury. While these may have been set up originally as a service to the pilgrims, they had become infested with greed and extortion. The Temple was a place of prayer, holiness, and redemption. Here the focus was to be on God and His forgiveness, love, and grace. Here was a sanctuary for personal reflection, repentance, and restored peace.
All that was threatened by the presence of a foreign spirit. Amidst the aroma of burnt offerings was the stench of profiteering and avarice. The Temple priests had shifted their priority from ministering to the people to lining their pockets with the meager means of the worshippers. The church had become polluted.
Enter the Great High Priest. Priorities had to be re-established. Tables had to be overturned. Order had to be restored. The Temple must be cleansed. Jesus named the affliction and refused to let it continue. There were whips, wrath, and chaos. Money flying everywhere, animals running free and screams from all sides. This was not “gentle Jesus meek and mild.” This was a display of white-hot anger against a system that was set up to displace God as the focus of worship and allegiance.
On this Monday of Holy Week, let us ask of ourselves where we have made something other than Christ a priority. Where has He been displaced in our heart, in our work, in our church? Anything we set up that displaces God is an idol. It competes for our attention and demands our allegiance. Idols give us the illusion of control. We have a choice before us. We either seek to own and control what we believe is ours, or we steward what is God’s. The former brings fear and bondage, the latter freedom and peace.
If we are honest with ourselves, must we not admit that ownership is an idol in our life, and a desire for control our passion? In this pandemic, so much of what we thought we controlled is being ripped away. So many of our ownership idols are being crushed. Might it be that God is cleansing us?
- Where do we need to let Jesus turn over the tables in our heart where we are still holding on to misplaced priorities?
- If there is a cleansing going on, what might that look like in our life? Our work? Our family? Our church?
- Why was Jesus so angry at the sight of the moneychangers and merchants? What might that say about His attitude toward our own idols?
- Name 3 things you hold onto with an ownership attitude. Pray for each that you might release them back to God, the rightful owner.
Dear Lord, the world around us is so loud. So much competes for our attention. So many distractions call us to shift our priorities away from you. Forgive us, Heavenly Father, for every place where we have allowed pollution to enter into our life, our work, our family, and our church. We humbly come under your cleansing hand that we might be made fresh and . We humbly come under your cleansing hand that we might be made fresh and pure this Holy Week. Equip us as faithful stewards to set aside our idol of control and surrender ourselves back to you in a new and deeper way. In the name of our gracious and merciful Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.