The Final Week: Temple

This week’s sermon is available to watch here.

This week Pastor Shawn continued taking us through the final week of Jesus. We stayed in Mark 11 and looked at the incident where Jesus drives the money changers out of the temple.

This event–this show of Jesus’ anger–is a side of Him that people seem to either want to ignore completely or want to talk about all the time. Unfortunately, I’ve seen both sides use this, probably not to actually get to the heart behind the matter, but to advance whatever religious or political cause they’re promoting.

But what we see here, as Pastor Shawn pointed out, is really not out of character for Jesus at all. He does this because it represents how the Father feels about sin, injustice, and His people acting outside of His way.

Jesus saw all that was going on in the temple, and then came back the next day, prepared to right what was wrong. This passage reminds me a lot of the prophets — which is where Jesus quotes from when He says that the temple is supposed to be a house of prayer but has been made a den of thieves. The prophets are always coming to speak to the Israelites — God’s people — about how justice is failing and people are suffering. They warn of God’s anger with their sin, with their uncaring hearts. They beg people to turn from their sin, because if they don’t, they will face God’s discipline.

God’s heart is for justice — we see this in what happens on the cross and in the instructions He gives through the Law. And so when God’s chosen people, those who are supposed to represent Him to the outside world, fail to do so in really spectacular ways — this bothers God.

The Jewish leaders in charge of the temple knew that the Court of the Gentiles was the one place in the temple where those who were not Jewish could come and worship the one, true God. And they knew that people from every economic situation would come to the temple to worship and offer sacrifices. And yet they let people sell in the Court of the Gentiles — crowding out those who had nowhere else to worship the Lord. And they allowed ridiculous prices that gouged those who could barely afford to offer a sacrifice to God. This is opposite of the heart of God, and so the anger Jesus shows with this injustice demonstrates God’s anger with this sin.

This is also why Jesus is often upset with some of the Pharisees. The Pharisees set out with a desire to obey God’s law, just as He commanded them. But they added to the law — they added extra burdens and justifications that were not from God. And so Jesus gets upset with this — He criticizes their extra practices and calls them out on hypocrisy. What God had set up to be something that was life-giving and representative of Him, the Pharisees were turning into a burden that didn’t draw anyone closer to the Lord.

The part of the sermon that stood out to me was the questions asked in Jeremiah 7. Am I guilty of being someone who steals, lies, worships false gods and then comes before God declaring my safety? This is what the Israelites were doing — feeling way too comfortable with their status as “God’s chosen,” while not recognizing that they were failing to live as God’s chosen. Our beliefs and actions must line up — this is what shows true faith and repentance.

So as we go through this week, ponder these questions with me:

  • What is your reaction to Jesus’ anger in the temple? Why?
  • Are there some areas in your life where you need to check if your actions line up with your beliefs?
  • How are you representing the Lord to those who don’t know Him?

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