At the start of Jesus’ ministry He went to Jerusalem for the Passover. He had an interesting encounter with some men in the Temple area.
In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”
I’ve heard some pretty animated discussions about this passage. People use it to teach about the evils of having a church fair or flea market. I’ve heard others say it’s a sin to have a church bookstore.
Through all of this I think that they’re missing the whole point of what Jesus is saying. We need to understand what was really going on. It was all about greed on the part of the priests.
There were some provisions in the law to make it easier for the people to tithe. If I lived far away from Jerusalem, I could sell the sheep I was bringing for a tithe. Then I travel to Jerusalem with the money, and buy more sheep when I get there. In that way it was less of a burden on the people.
Unfortunately, religion changed all that. The priests made a rule that you could only buy specially inspected animals at the Temple for an inflated price.
On top of that, you could only use specially minted Temple coins to buy these animals. These coins were purchased from the money-changers at a high rate of exchange.
The result was – if I started at home with 100 sheep as a tithe; by the time I was through with this process I might only be able to afford 50 to offer at the Temple. So the priests and salespeople were getting rich while the people and God were being robbed. Jesus was reacting to the thievery that He was witnessing.
But the real question is; how does this apply to us? In the above Scripture Jesus said to take this stuff out of the Temple area. More importantly, My Father’s house is not an emporium.
So, religious people get hung up about church flea markets or fairs. First of all – a church building is not my Father’s house. Right now – I am my Father’s house and you are too. We are the dwelling place of God’s Spirit.
The bottom line for them – and us – is greed. It’s about what your house is based upon. Are you an emporium – a marketplace? Is your life revolving around stuff?
Are you truly the house of God – a place of worship? Can people see by your life that your whole being is devoted to the worship of the Lord? Do all the parts of your life revolve around Him?
Everything starts with an attitude – what’s ours?
His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
Do you hear what the Holy Spirit spoke to the Apostles about this matter? Zeal for YOUR HOUSE will CONSUME ME. Our zeal to be a place of worship should consume all that we are. Think about that in relation to our lives.
John the Baptist said, “I must decrease – He must increase.” This should be the attitude of all believers. I am not all about the temporary, material things of this world. I must maintain the integrity of the living temple where God reigns supreme.
Question: What are some things you do to keep your Temple a place of worship?
© Nick Zaccardi 2016