Matthew 21:12-17 Jesus cleanses the Temple (Church)

Jesus entered the Temple and began throwing out all those who sold and bought in the temple.

According to the book of Mark Jesus went into the Temple the next day and we know from the Gospel of John that this is the second time Jesus cleaned the Temple.

John 2:13-17 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

As you can see some of the details are different so this is not the same cleansing. This just shows that even though Jesus cleaned the Temple before they did not have any remorse for what they were doing because they went right back and did the same things again.

The temple means the whole complex and not just the worship area. Sometimes when we hear the word “Temple” we think of a Sanctuary and do not get the full idea of what was taking place.  It was called the Court of the Gentiles which was 25 acres where all the buying and selling would have been taking place.

This was a violent calculated act by Jesus toward the religious leaders because of their abuse toward God’s people. The animal that was to be sacrificed to God as a symbol of atonement for their sin,  had to be without blemish. The priest would be the ones to determine if it was or was not suitable for sacrifice and because of that power they were using it as a way to extort money from the people.

Leviticus 1:1-4 The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock.

“If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.

 People were bringing  animals to be approved by the Priest and then they would have sold them another animal claiming their animal was not good enough. Then the Priest  would turn around and resell the animal they brought to someone else for their sacrifice.

Then He overturned the tables of the Money changers and benches selling doves

People would come with foreign money and it would have foreign gods on it and that was not acceptable to purchase their animals or to pay their Temple tax. So before they could buy their animals for the sacrifice or pay their temple tax they would have to exchange their money to meet the Biblical requirements found in Exodus 30:11-16

Picture a bunch of change flying all over the place. Picture doves being released and flying and landing in the courtyard. Picture a bunch of animals being scattered and released all over this 25 acre complex and then you will get some idea of what was taking place.

The problem with doves is that those are what the poor purchased for their sacrifice to God because that is all they could afford. So the Religious leaders did not even care that the poor were being robbed.  The people had no choice and there was nothing they could do about the price gauging that was taking place because the religious leaders allowed it.

It was not the selling of these items that was the problem it was the abuse the religious leaders had allowed against the very people they should have been protecting. The selling of animals and the exchanging of money was not the issue but the way it was being done. Some say they were charging up to 10 times the normal cost of things.

So what can we learn from all of this?

1)    Jesus concern is for the condition of His people not the government

They wanted a Messiah that would take them away from Roman rule not a savior that would put them back into a right relationship with God. The problem, like many today, is that they thought they were in a right relationship with God because of their spiritual acts. Jesus repeatedly pointed out that it was not just the outward actions that mattered but the inward change that should have been taking place.

God always begins with His own people first before He punishes a Nation.

1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

Our government problems do not compare to our sin problems that we have before God. Of course our Government problems stem from sin problems but if we are going to see a change in our Nation then it begins with a change in us. For us to be Salt and Light to the world (Matthew 5:16) we have to be different than the world.

Jesus did not come to conquer Rome He came to confront those who said they were followers of God.

It is written my house will be called a house of prayer and you made it a hide out for robbers

Jesus now rebukes the religious leaders and points out exactly what they have been doing.

Isaiah 56:6-8 And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,  to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer  for all peoples.” The Lord God,  who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”

This is a beautiful picture of God’s grace toward all who accept Him. It was part of the tradition of sacrificing an animal to show that the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) It was a demonstration of what was to come when Jesus Christ died on the Cross for us.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A temple was to be a place of worship, quiet meditation, contemplation, praise, and devotion, a place where God’s people could draw close to Him in Worship, sacrifice and offerings and could seek His will and blessings” (John Macarthur)

So the temple was a place where people could come before their Creator and pray and receive grace for the sins they committed and to demonstrate the sacrifice that was to come. The religious leaders not only were charging a bunch of money they were encouraging others to rip people off as well.

Jesus calls it a hideout for robbers because they could not get away with this anywhere else.  The religious leaders were using God as a way to rob people and there was no recourse of actions against them. A robber is someone who plans on taking someone else’s money or things. The merchants would pay the religious leaders to have a spot at the temple plus a percentage of what they made knowing they were going to make a lot of money.

When Jesus tosses things out of your life do you go right back to them?

As Christians we have to allow Jesus to step into our lives and toss out the things that do not belong there. If we are to be followers of His then we have to allow Him to get rid of the things we do not need and the things that are actually destroying true worship.

2)    Church should be a place that people find Healing.

And the Blind and lame came to Him and He healed them

Jesus just went on a table flipping tangent and these people were approaching Him with their needs. The religious who think they do not need Him run from Him and the hurting, sick and blind run to Him.  There is always grace to be found at the feet of Jesus if you know that you cannot earn your way to Heaven on your own.

Remember many of that day thought that if you were blind or lame than you were cursed of God. The lame were also not allowed in the sanctuary because their crutches or mats were thought to be unclean and would defile the sanctuary. There was no compassion for the hurting, the blind or the lame.

Surely they heard what Jesus did for the blind men who were screaming out His name in Jericho and they did not care that Jesus was yelling at others, they wanted to be healed. For the first time the blind who were healed saw the Temple they heard so much about.For the first time, or in a long time, peoples limbs were restored and they could walk around the temple freely by themselves.

It’s a picture of Heaven when there will be no more pain and no more physical ailments. Jesus shows us how when we come to Him we will receive complete healing.

Revelation 21:3-5 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

We look forward to that day of ultimate healing but if we are going to be just like Jesus than we have to be ones who offer healing  as well.

3)    Some people will not believe no matter how much evidence they see

When the Chief priest saw

Two things were happening at once. Jesus was healing people and the children were singing His praises. If this were a musical it would be one of those dramatic moments as you watched a scene being played out with music in the background.

They were angry and they questioned Him

They were witnessing first hand some amazing miracles and yet they still hated Him. They believed Jesus was actually going against God at this point because those people deserved their sickness, blindness, and to remain lame. Some people it does not matter how much proof there is they will never believe. Not only will they not believe but they become combative about Jesus. They wanted Him to rebuke the Children for calling Him the Son of David instead of rejoicing over the healings.

Jesus answered them with scripture

Psalm 8:2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.

This was tied to the Messiah and so by Jesus quoting this verse He was claiming to them publicly that He was the Messiah. Anyone who was not the Messiah should have had the children stop but Jesus encouraged it.

And leaving them

It is a sad day when the very one who can heal you walks away. We do not talk about how one day you will not hear the voice of Jesus anymore but the Bible is clear a day will come when you will  no longer be able to accept Jesus Christ for who He is and what He has done for us.

Walking away was used throughout the gospel of Matthew as a sign of rejection. (12:15, 14:13, 15:21)

Hebrews 3:15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

Jesus does not force Himself upon you, He only shows you who He is and leaves it up to you to accept or reject Him.

4)    Jesus was our perfect sacrifice

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Peter 1:18-19  knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

One day we will stand before God and be asked only one question “Did you receive my Son as the ultimate sacrifice”

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Romans 4:7-8 Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Have you accepted Jesus as your perfect sacrifice?

Are you like the religious leaders who see everything from God yet still ignore it?

Do you see your actions as good enough or do you understand Jesus Christ died on the cross for you as the perfect sacrifice?

If there were any other way to Heaven besides through Jesus Christ, then Jesus died for nothing.

 

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