Jesus Cleansing the Temple is a Lesson in Worship

Although We Mean Well, We Sometimes Get Worship Wrong

On Monday morning of Holy Week, after Jesus cursed the fig tree, He went to the Temple as He had many times before. On this visit to the Temple, like one other time in His ministry, He caused quite a stir.

Jewish Temple In Jesus' Day - Worship

The Temple in Jesus’ day. The large open areas are the court of the Gentiles.

Here’s how Matthew describes it:

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:12-13 ESV

It was the time of the Passover Feast. Hundreds of thousands of people traveled to Jerusalem to worship. It wasn’t practical for those who came from great distances to bring an animal for the sacrifice. Consequently they had to buy animals locally to sacrifice. Also, the Temple only accepted Tyrian currency so people who came with different currencies had to exchange money to pay the Temple tax. These were practical matters that had to be taken care of for the Passover. The problem was where and how these were done.

The Court of the Gentiles was where the Gentiles were allowed to worship. This was a large area about 2.5 acres in size. Instead of worship taking place, the area was filled with people selling animals and changing money. It was like a huge flea market! How could worship go on with such noise and distraction?

That wasn’t the only problem. Those selling animals and exchanging money did so at exorbitant rates. It was worse than buying a burger at Disneyland!

Those selling animals and changing the money weren’t there for worship, they were there for personal profit.

It’s easy for us to condemn them but perhaps we should pause for a moment. Why do you worship God? Think about this:

  • Have you complained because the songs are unfamiliar and you can’t lose yourself in worship?
  • Are you bothered because worship doesn’t include more of the style of music you like?
  • Do you sometimes walk away dissatisfied because you didn’t “feel good” after worship?
  • Have you changed churches just because of the style of worship or you like a worship leader better?

If you said yes to any of those questions then maybe worship is more about you and how you feel than about God. Those who go to worship solely for the purpose of feeling good are filling their spiritual pockets just like the money changers.

Yes, true worship will always result in joy and peace in the worshiper. That isn’t the goal, it’s a blessed outcome from God. Let us worship the Lord with whole hearts today! Amen?

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