Read: Matthew 21:12–13; Mark 11:15–17; and Luke 19:45–48
Jesus gives the people an interesting perspective about the Temple. “And as he taught them, he said, ‘Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers’ ” (Mark 11:17).
Reflect: When we travel to other countries, we gain a different view of markets. In some of the busiest and very modern cities of our world, we might be surprised to find street vendors hoping to sell us knock-off versions of brand names, thus keeping us out of the nicer shopping centers.
In areas where police jurisdiction is fairly lenient, we may likely find so many street vendors that we can’t get into the shops easily. Quite often we find ourselves walking out into the streets to get around these vendors. These kinds of markets annoy customers who are trying to get to a particular shop, and shop owners aren’t likely to appreciate them either.
In Jesus’ day, the Temple court, where the Gentiles were supposed to go for prayer, had become a market place. Sacrificial lambs and other animals were sold at high prices, and Jesus called it “a den of robbers.” Luke 11:15–16 tells how Jesus drove out those who were selling and turned over the tables until the Temple was again returned to its original purpose.
Respond: As we prepare for Easter this year, we invite you to come back to the Temple court in Jerusalem today. Imagine the scene before you! Imagine you are one of the people who journeyed to Jerusalem to pray in the temple.
The sounds and bad smells of sheep, doves, and other sacrificial animals are everywhere. Even though you didn’t want to travel a long distance with your own animals, these are extremely expensive. You may wonder why the vendors can sell at such high prices right there at the Temple where people are supposed to be at their best.
Jesus refused to accept this kind of behavior in a place meant for prayer. He “cleaned out the Temple” so that people of all nations were free to worship and pray.
This tells us a few things about Jesus. Though we know He is the Prince of Peace, He may also disturb the peace of some people (like the vendors). He chose to clean out those things that blocked others who wanted to pray. He loves the nations so much that He gave His life so that each of us could pray freely.
First Corinthians 6:19–20 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” Are there things that are keeping us from serving the purpose God intended? Are there areas where we need Jesus to do some spring-cleaning?