3/7/2018 1:52:43 PM
Temples of Flesh and Spirit
The Temple in Jerusalem was a busy place in Jesus’ day. It had recently undergone a major building project that reconstructed the temple courts and the inner rooms. It was a place of prayer where people could gather in the corners and alcoves of the outer courtyard and spend some quiet time praying in groups or by themselves. It was God’s house where he dwelt among his people, where he could renew his promises, where he could forgive them.
So you can understand Jesus’ anger when God’s house had been turned into a marketplace. Upon entering the Temple grounds, there would be people offering to change your Roman currency into the Temple’s currency—for a fee. There would be tables where you could purchase the appropriate animal for your particular sacrifice—at an elevated cost. Perhaps you brought your own animal for sacrifice. Then your animal had to be inspected. This too had its price.
And all of this was open to abuse. Fees for inspection could be very high. The money changers would change their rates. So you could imagine the arguments, “What do you mean my lamb isn’t good enough? It’s perfect!” “This is extortion! You charged him half as much as you’re charging me!” And where did all this money go? It went into the pockets of the priests who had cleverly created a system that made them rich. In other words, God’s house was now a place of selfishness. Love and honor for wealth had been placed high above love and honor of God. God’s commands were being abused for profit!
If your blood boils at this blatant disregard for God’s commands, watch yourself. This is a mirror for us. We look at that marketplace and we see a reflection of what often happens inside our own hearts: greed, disregard of God’s commands. We put inside our own temples, our hearts, a marketplace of things that we love more than God.
How do we get back to a right relationship with God where we love him and his commands above all else? How do we kick out the things in our life that push God away? We can't. But Jesus does. He chases away our sins. His death condemns the sin in us and his death frees us from death. Jesus destroyed the Temple of his own body so that he could build a new, holy Temple within each one of us, the spiritual dwelling place of his presence. In Christ, we are reunited with God.