Foundations of Our Faith Day 2: Jesus Clears the Temple
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.” (Matthew 21:12-13, ESV)
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5, ESV)
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, ESV)
If you don’t struggle with having a bad temper, first of all I’m jealous, and second, you might not relate to the illustration that follows. Have you ever been so upset or angry about something that you didn’t know what to do in the moment? When my brother and I were younger and would get into an argument, it seemed like he knew how to time the exact moment a parent would enter the room and ensure I always appeared to be in the wrong. I would get caught yelling at him, and as I (rightfully) got in trouble, I would look over and see his gloating face. If you have siblings, you know the face I’m talking about. As soon as he made that face, my anger would quite literally escalate. That example might be trivial and a little silly, but we’ve all had moments when we were angry.
The anger that Jesus expressed in Matthew 21 wasn’t over something trivial. I can’t really compare my anger toward my sibling to the anger Jesus felt when He saw what was going on in the temple; His anger was righteous—mine was anything but righteous. The temple was supposed to be a place of worship and prayer but they had made it into a center of merchandising where people were profiting from selling animals to be sacrificed. A place that should be filled with humility and worship He found it to be crawling with greed. He was expecting to find faithful servants of the Lord but instead found prideful men looking to take advantage of one another. He called out their sin and drove them out of the temple. Jesus didn’t respond in sinful anger but rather in righteous anger. He never stooped to our level and He only displayed righteous anger, as He identified the problem and pointed to Scripture.
Today, we don’t have temples where we must go to worship Him. His death on the cross removed our need for a physical temple in order to come before God. We read in 1 Timothy that Jesus is our mediator, meaning that He bridges the gap between us and God. He is the link that allows us to enter into the presence of God when we bow our heads in prayer. First Corinthians 6 tells us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. I apologize if I am taking the verse slightly out of its context, but once we accept Christ as our Savior, we have the promise that the Holy Spirit is within us and will never leave us. We don’t need to travel to a temple any longer, but our own bodies are temples for the Spirit of God to dwell in. Let that thought sink in—your body is a temple for the Spirit of the One who created all things and knows all things of the past, present, and future.
If you were to compare yourself to the temple discussed in Matthew 21, how would you hold up? Greed might not be an area of struggle for you, but is there something else that takes priority in your life over offering praise and worship to our Creator? Maybe you work long hours and miss time in His Word. Maybe you regularly choose to do things like working out and going out with friends over spending time with Him in prayer. Or you might spend hours scrolling on your phone when you could be worshipping Him. I’m guilty of all these things at times, not placing the Lord as my top priority. I challenge you to think of things that are idols in your heart and to pray about them and bring them before the Lord. Just as Jesus did in the temple, I challenge you to remove the things that are above Him and replace them with time in His Word, time in prayer, and time appreciating who He is and what He has given us.