February 23

Bible Reading: Mark 11

Mark 11:15-17, “And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying 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.’”

Jesus entered the temple, drove out the buyers and sellers, overturned the tables and chairs, and put an end to all of commerce (Mark 11:15-18). In righteous indignation Jesus zealously intervened to cleanse the temple from all merchandising. What are we to make of this? Jesus Himself explained His actions: “My House shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations, but you have made it a den of robbers” (Mark 11:17). The temple was for worship, they were using it for their own monetary gain. He cleansed the temple at the start of His ministry (John 2:14-17), He cleansed it again in the end.

Temples are for worship.  The priests were to lead the people in worship.  The sacrifices were to be offered in worship.  Humble prayer was to characterize such activities.  Worship of God was to happen there (Psalm 84:1-4).  Simeon and Anna knew that (Luke 2:25-37).  Others too, no doubt, but the religious leaders had no heart for worship (Matthew 15:8-9), and they wielded much influence (Matthew 27:20; 23:13).  In its commerce and corruption, the temple had become as worthless to its purpose as a fig tree without figs (Mark 11:12-14).

Jesus’ activity in the temple was wholly consistent to the prime purpose of His ministry.  As A. W. Tozer once wrote, “Why did Christ come?  Why was He conceived?  Why was He born?  Why was He crucified?  Why did He rise again?  Why is He now at the right hand of the Father?  The answer to the question is, “In order that He might make worshipers out of rebels; in order that He might restore us again to the place of worship we knew when we were first created.” Jesus is in the temple-cleansing business. 

God created each of us to worship Him.  That is the reason for our existence.  What is the chief end of man?  “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  Rebel sinners have no heart to worship God.  The heart of the rebel sinner merchandizes in sin.  Much activity goes on, some perhaps under the guise of religion, but it never constitutes true worship.  A cleansing work of one’s heart is necessary.

That God desires such worshippers should encourage us.  John 4:23-24, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  A thorough cleansing by Jesus takes place at the moment of saving faith: “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14).  A cleansing of the heart from dead works coincides with a renewed desire to serve the living God.  Jesus alone can do such things!  And He works such a change with the same zeal he revealed in the cleansing of the temple.

Many would prefer a more tolerant Jesus, a Jesus who might wink at sin or excuse and tolerate it.  But one lesson we should take from this account is that Jesus is zealous to cleanse from sin.  The born-again believer is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), a living stone in “a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:12).  The temple, His Church, exists for the purpose of worshipping Him.  To this purpose we are called (Ephesians 1:6,12,14), to this eternal occupation we are destined (1 Timothy 1:17).  We have been cleansed for this purpose and are being cleansed still (Ephesians 5:26).  The Holy Spirit who indwells us is zealous in this cause (James 4:5-8).  Jesus cleansed the temple.  He cleanses them still.  One day soon there will be no further need for cleansing—in that place “where righteousness dwells,” (2 Peter 3:13).  The redeemed with gather round the Throne and worship the Temple cleansing Jesus.

We were created to worship; Jesus alone can work to cleanse us from sin that we might fulfill our God-given purpose.

Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;
I want Thee forever to live in my soul,
Break down every idol, cast out every foe;
Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow,
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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