“My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17).
Jesus would not put up with some things.
We have seen over and over again his compassion for the hurting and his outreach to the forgotten. He cares for those the world forgets.
But he has little patience with religious people who use religion to hurt others. In this case, Jesus was incensed that the moneychangers were doing it again. By “again” I mean that this is the second time Jesus cleansed the temple, the first time being in John 2, at the beginning of his public ministry.
He cleanses the temple as he starts his ministry.
He cleanses the temple as he close his ministry.
This is not by chance. He means by this to reveal the utter sterility of the Israelite system of worship. God always intended that his temple in Jerusalem should be a house of prayer for all nations. Even though it was uniquely the Jewish temple, all nations were invited to pray there. But no prayer could take place because the profiteers had completely taken over the outer courts. They made their money charging exorbitant fees to buy animals for worship and to exchange money into the special temple currency.
Business was good, and that made Jesus angry.
The fact that he cleansed the temple twice shows how deeply sin is embedded in the human heart. It also helps us see why Jesus had to die. It was not enough to take overturn the tables and drive the money-grubbers out. The very hearts of the people must be changed.
For that to happen, Jesus must die.
And in his death, he opened a way for every person to come directly to God. No longer will they have to travel to Jerusalem. Now every heart is a temple where Jesus reigns as Lord. Through him the weakest believer enters into the presence of God.
From both cleansings we see how much our God yearns for fellowship with us. He loves us so much that he will overturn the tables and shake us up so that once again our hearts belong to him.
What a Christ we serve!
He loves us too much to leave us as we are.
Shake us up, Lord Jesus. Overturn the tables of greed, sloth, pride and lust. Do whatever it takes so that our hearts will be fully in tune with you. Amen.
Dr. Ray Pritchard is the founder and President of Keep Believing Ministries.