“Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’ ” Matthew 21:12-13
“Our Savior is much more concerned with our hearts and with His Church than with circumstances that are fleeting.”
- Hello, friends! For the remainder of the Easter studies, we are learning about how Jesus spent the last week before His crucifixion. We continue our study with Monday: the day Jesus cleared the temple. Take a moment to thank God for today’s blessings, and thank Him that He gave you the time and opportunity to seek Him today. Pray He will bless your study, and you will draw closer to Him.
- Read Matthew 21:12-17. Recall the previous study on Palm Sunday, Jesus’s humble yet glorious entrance into Jerusalem.
Clearing a Path to God
The Jewish Temple was much more significant to the Israelites than church buildings are to modern Christians. Perhaps that is why Jesus drastically clearing the temple seems so inappropriate and out of character. The temple in Jerusalem was THE sacred place that housed the very Spirit of God. It was glorious and beautiful, demonstrating what a magnificent privilege it is to personally connect with the Almighty God. That is exactly why Jesus’s actions were not only appropriate but very necessary. This building was symbolic of the Spirit’s modern temple: our hearts. The Israelites traveled to the Temple in Jerusalem to connect with their Creator, but our bodies are the new temple, where the Spirit of God lives and works (1 Corinthians 6:19).
It is a bit frightening to imagine Jesus zealously overturning tables; here He doesn’t seem to be the gentle, merciful Lamb we see throughout the New Testament. His zeal abolishes injustice and corruption. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money,” (Matthew 6:24). He was ensuring that only God was being served and worshiped in that place. In clearing God’s temple of everything that was not godly, Jesus was making room for God’s Kingdom on Earth. After the temple was clear, Jesus had room to bring miraculous healing and peace, to give them a taste of the God who is Love.
The Israelites had been taught that Jesus came to end injustice, but most people expected it to be at the government level. They knew Jesus came to set them free, as Moses had done generations before; however, they anticipated a Savior who would overthrow and replace the oppressive Roman government. Instead, He chose a different route to justice by removing sin and corruption from within His Temple, His Church. It is ironic to think that the people anticipated the Almighty God using His power to overturn the great Caesar. Instead, He bestowed that power on twelve ordinary men, the apostles, and changed the world through them!
We are not much different from the ancient Israelites. Even now, people tend to cry out to national and international governments for social change, expecting our leaders to stand up and oppose evil and injustice. During elections, we watch the debates and see the political advertisements; we become emotionally invested in issues that would ordinarily take a back burner in our lives. It is easy to get caught up in the momentum and buy into the promises that one candidate or party can solve our problems and get us onto the right path.
Only Jesus can do that, though, regardless of who our leaders are. We cry out for justice, and God will answer in due time. Just as the case was for the Israelites, however, God generally doesn’t work how or when we expect. He patiently waits for our will to unite with His, for our hearts to turn toward Him. Our Savior is much more concerned with our hearts and with His Church than with circumstances that are fleeting. During Easter, we are reminded of Jesus’s tremendous love and sacrifice for us. We should also remember why that sacrifice was necessary: to erase sin and brokenness that would have otherwise kept us from Our Holy Father’s Kingdom.
Questions to Ponder
- What changes are you hoping or working for in your life? Are you relying on God to guide you to the place you want to be?
- What sinful behaviors or negative thoughts are keeping you from progress?
- Pray that God will open your eyes to His work in your life. Also, pray that God will help you to see His presence and recognize when He is guiding you.
Discuss this lesson with your kids. I like to have discussions in the car because I have a captive audience with minimal distractions. This lesson will work well in the car because the radio is easily accessible.
First, tell them about Holy Week. Tell them about Jesus clearing the temple before He began His miraculous work. Explain why it was necessary for Jesus to overturn the tables. Then tell them you are going to play Simon Says (you need to be Simon).
Tell them to do silly things like “rub your belly and pat your head” or “ shake your head around.” Then turn on the radio and continue giving commands without raising your voice. No one will be able to hear your commands over the radio. Then turn the radio down or off so that everyone can hear you give a few more commands.
Explain to your children that God’s voice is like your voice in Simon Says. God does not leave us or give up on guiding us. He is always there for His children, but we can fill our lives with other habits, sin, or media that stand in the way of God’s still, small voice (just as the vendors stood in the way of Israelites meeting with God). The solution is easy, though! Simply figure out what is blocking God’s voice, remove it from your life, and refocus on God.
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