“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matt. 21:12-13).
There are many vivid images of Jesus embedded in the minds of people which are rooted in Biblical narratives.
There is the image of the baby Jesus lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes on the night of His birth because there was no room in the inn for the family.
There is the image of the young boy Jesus, staying in the Temple to speak with the Jewish rabbis, and astonishing them with His insightful questions.
There is the image of the baptized Jesus after He was presented by His cousin John as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.
There is the image of the tempted Jesus who resisted the lure of the world, the flesh, and the devil by depending on the Father as He quoted Scripture. And the devil left him for a season.
There is the image of the teaching Jesus who gathered people around Himself and taught them how to be favored by God. When He was finished, the people marveled for Jesus taught with authority and not like the scribes who qualified any point they made.
There is the image of the gentle Jesus calling the lame and the poor, the diseased and the sinful to come to Him for rest, and to be like Him.
“Fain I would be as Thou art;
Give me Thine obedient heart:
Thou art pitiful and kind;
Let me have Thy loving mind.”
There is the image of the angry Jesus, which surprises many people, for His anger seems out of character, until it is remembered there is a righteous angry that reflects the heart of God.
Because of this startling image, Christians should pause and ask the question,
“What made Jesus mad?”
“What made Jesus so angry when He went into the Holy Temple, conceived by God, built by Solomon, and expanded upon by Herod the Great, that He made a whip, and with holy violence cast out individuals?”
The answer is given. People were making the House of God something other than a House of Prayer.
From the beginning, God wanted people to think of Him, when the Tabernacle was first conceived in the Wilderness, following the Exodus, from Egypt during the days of Moses. The Lord dwelt in the Tabernacle in the middle of His people. He manifested Himself by a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. Where the Lord led, the people followed. Where the Lord rested, the people camped. They followed God.
In later years, when the Solomon dedicated the Temple, the shekinah glory of the Lord descended. People stood in awe and worshipped.
People knew. Inside the Holy of Holies in the breath-taking beauty of the Temple, there was the Ark of the Covenant. Inside the Ark was shewbread, in anticipation of Jesus, the Bread of Life. There was Arron’s rod that budded, for Jesus would one day rise from the dead. There was the tablet written on by the finger of God, for there is a holy Law to keep.
People came to the Temple to pray, to worship, to sacrifice, to receiving God’s blessing. It was a sacred place.
As the years passed, people lost their awe and wonder and turned the House of God into a commercial enterprise.
Some vendors sold animals for sacrifice, at an inflated price.
Other vendors took the coins of the realm and exchanged them for Roman currency and kept part of the proceeds for services rendered.
The overall result was that the site of the Holy Temple was desecrated. There was a carnival like atmosphere, identified with that which was designed to be a House of Prayer.
What Jesus saw taking place in the Holy Temple area made Him angry. The zeal of the Lord ate Him up.
One day, Jesus exploded with righteous fury. Striving from table to table, and from stall to stall, Jesus overturned the tables, and disrupted businesses with a strength greater than that of Samson. In holy fury that could not be contained, Jesus drove the careless and the commercialist from His Father’s House.
The question comes.
“If Jesus were to visit His Father’s Houses today, would He become angry?”
When Jesus sees the modern local Church being used as an amusement park to attract people, in the name of ministry, would He praise such behavior taking place on holy ground, no matter how well meaning the motive to do so might be?”
Should the House of Prayer, built for the glory of God, and the good of His people, be turned into a rock concert hall, a place of childish amusement, and a house of entertainment that invites applauds?
Perhaps it is time for the people of God to reconsider what we have done to the Father’s House, and for this reason.
“Jesus is not terribly impressed with religious commercialism.
He is concerned not only whether we’re doing God’s work,
but also, how and why we’re doing it.”
Today, in any given location, when a person in the community walks by holy ground where a House of Prayer has been raised, with the sacrificial gifts of God’s people, do they see a water slide, hot dog vendors, free pony rides, a circus, a concert hall, a place to send the children for a time of fun and games, or, do they see a House of Prayer? Do people in the community see anything spiritual on Holy Ground? Do they see the people of God moving reverently, happily, but in a worshipful manner going to their Father’s House saying, “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord ‘” (Psalms 122:1)?
Would the way our Father’s House is being used today make Jesus angry?
Certainly, it makes some of us very sad, and we are concerned. We are not censorious but wondering.