Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ “
Another remarkable event that took place during the Passion Week, as the time for the Lord Jesus’ crucifixion drew near, is recorded in today’s Scripture. To everyone’s amazement, Jesus drove out people who were buying and selling things pertaining to the Passover season in the temple courtyard. The Lord was indignant because people were busy abusing the physical temple of God. They had turned the ‘House of Prayer’ it into a ‘den of thieves’. What a terrible conversion!
I’m sure the temple traders felt quite justified to do business in and around the temple. They did so because what they were selling-sheep, goats, doves and so forth-purportedly served worshippers who came to Jerusalem from near and far for this most important biblical, holy festival. In their minds, they were not just making money, but they were providing a necessary service for Jewish penitents.
Yet God’s view was totally different! I don’t deny that they may have started well, genuinely enough. But the whole thing had degenerated into a charade. Their “service” had simply become cutthroat business, desecrating the house of God. The focus of attention has shifted from worship to business. Mammon (the spirit of materialism) had quietly slipped into church, displacing genuine pursuit of God. Some worshippers’ motives for attending church had become more and more commercial and less and less spiritual. The balance was skewed. And God was not fooled! He could see through their shows and masquerades of faith.
Likewise beloveds, what you and I may not realise today is that we are also guilty of desecrating the Lord’s temple. And here I am not primarily talking about a physical building. Rather, we are talking about our bodies, which in the new covenant are also temples of God (see 1 Corinthians 6:19). How indignant do you think the Lord is when we violate our temple-bodies?
How do we violate and desecrate our temple-bodies in the sight of God? We do so, among other things, when we get the balance wrong. When Christ is no longer the centre of our piety, we’re just putting on a show. When the faculties of our bodies don’t glorify God, we’re violating His temple. When our lips speak profanities, when our eyes behold vanity and our ears itch for lies-we’re desecrating the Lord’s temple. The same goes for all of our other physical faculties.
As we draw near to this year’s Passover, I beseech you by the mercies of God to present once again your body (temple) as a living, holy and acceptable sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1). Drive out all unworthy activities from your life. Repent and confess from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. Amen. Pastor Josh