17 And he taught, and said to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
Is Your Temple Clean?
When I was younger, and was beginning to study the meaning of scripture, I was curious as to why Jesus waited so long to clear out the Temple. Why did He do it at the beginning of His last week before the cross? Surely Jesus had seen the money changers and merchants buying and selling in the Temple for years. Then, I learned what a cataclysmic event the clearing of the Temple really was.
Many leaders of Israel wanted to kill Jesus for some time, but couldn’t find the right opportunity. Had He done something as bold and riotous as the clearing of the Temple earlier in his ministry, no doubt they would have accelerated their plan to stop him. The clearing of the Temple was the, “last straw so to speak”. The leaders couldn’t tolerate Jesus anymore. If He could change the way the Temple worked, He could change everything.
The True Temple
In many ways, the Temple is a metaphor for us. Jesus knew the Temple building itself would soon be destroyed, never to be rebuilt. Going forward the real Temple of the Holy Spirit would be the human heart. Everything Jesus did was to save humanity, to redeem and sanctify us. Clearing the Temple at the beginning of Holy Week was a strong statement about everything He was about to do that week. Jesus would soon show us the real, “House of Prayer” is in our hearts as he agonized in Garden of Gethsemane.
As we begin Holy Week together let’s ask of ourselves, “Is our Temple clean?” Our Lenten journey has been about re-centering our lives on Christ through prayer, fasting, and works of mercy. But, just as Israel’s worship of God in the Temple had lost its true meaning, so too our Temple can be voided without a proper cleansing of our hearts. Our prayer, fasting, and works can be to no avail if our hearts are not cleansed along the way.
The Psalmist has a prayer for us to begin our Holy Week. Won’t you pray it today and allow The Father’s House to be swept clean and made ready to be raised from the ashes?
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness; *
in your great compassion blot out my offenses…(to pray the psalm, click here)
Grace & Peace for a Holy Week,
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”