Monday, February 24, 2014


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 He zealously intervened to cleanse the temple from all such activities.  What are we to make of this account?  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 evil ends.  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).  The temple was as worthless to its purpose as a fig tree without figs (Mark 11:12-14).

Jesus’ activity in the temple is not at all inconsistent with all else that He did in His ministry.  He is in the temple-cleansing business.  A. W. Tozer, “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.”

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.

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