A PLACE FOR EVERYONE
MATTHEW 21:12-14 NKJV
12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.'"
14 Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.
Jesus showed a genuine proclivity for irritating religious people. Because we live in such a different environment, it's harder for us to grasp just how counter-cultural Jesus was in His day.
Matthew is sharing the famous story of Jesus clearing out the temple. John gives us the most detail of what Jesus did. Evidently, the temple had become a prime place to do business. They were selling oxen, sheep, and doves and had a money exchange thing going on. And Jesus was not having it.
Jesus made a whip of cords and drove all the animals and merchants out of the temple. I admit I would have loved to have seen that. He overturned the money changers' tables and got rid of the dove sellers. Historians tell us that this temple market had become big business where people were taken advantage of. For example, a man would bring in an animal for an offering, but it would not pass inspection from the priests, so he would be sent to the sellers to purchase and "acceptable" animal for the sacrifice at a premium price. It's no wonder that Jesus said they had turned the temple into a den of thieves.
The temple was to be a special place. A place of prayer and reverence for God. A holy place where God was to be worshipped, a place for the people to connect with the living God. But when the business people took over, the nature of the temple completely changed. Jesus had to be pretty fired up at this obvious violation of Scripture and desecration of the place meant for God's glory. He stated that it was written that the house of God was to be a house of prayer, so Jesus had a scriptural basis for his anger and actions.
But verse 14 is quite revealing. Then, after He cleared the temple, the blind and lame came to Him, and He healed them. The implication here is that the blind and lame were not welcome in the temple until Jesus reestablished the temple's purpose. Too often, the blind and lame were accused of being sinners. Their condition was attributed to sin, and they were not welcome in the temple. Sheep and oxen were welcome, but the blind and lame were not. Thankfully Jesus fixed that. He not only welcomed them, He healed them. Score another big win for Jesus!
I just appreciate Jesus the more I come to know Him and see how He operates. He loves people and wants them to experience a relationship with the living God. He wants them well and welcomed into His house and His kingdom.
We sell stuff in the church all the time. But it's not to rip people off or create a marketplace. Typically it's to feed or provide another revenue stream for supporting missions. The big picture is, where is the heart of the church? We are a place where all are welcomed. A place where we hope to introduce others to the living God. A place where we can learn more about the One we love and serve. A place where God is honored and worshipped.
Jesus gave us the pattern; church is to be a spiritually clean environment and a place for everyone.