It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (John 2:13-16)
Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 35:1 – 36:38
Relate: We were playing tag upstairs in the church. Or maybe it was sharks and minnows. Probably not red rover, that usually stayed outside. Usually. Whatever it was, we were running around and being loud. I was singled out by an older lady in the church. She grabbed my arm and said, “You shouldn’t be running in the house of God.” My answer was something along the lines of, “Why not? Jesus did. Only He chased people with a whip.” She was taken a little back by this answer and her response was, “Well, lets just see what your father has to say about that.” The two of us marched downstairs to dad. After hearing her complaint and my explanation, my dad’s response was, “If she asks you to stop running, next time just stop running.” Two things I pulled from that, 1) He didn’t say no running, only to stop running when asked. 2) He didn’t correct my bad theology which meant it probably wasn’t as bad as I thought it was when I misused it. I was probably over thinking the issue but even as a kid I was an expert at manipulating other people’s words to suit my own needs.
Yes, Jesus did play a game of chase in the Temple courts. First he chased the people, then he chased the animals and finally he knocked over the tables. God’s house isn’t a market. It isn’t a place where people should go to get rich or to lose all their money. By having a marketplace set up right in the Temple courts, it becomes more difficult to focus on the things that really matter. Going to the house of God becomes a burden rather than a joy. The fun, the rejoicing, the celebration is gone to be replaced by a place of business.
React: Mean old ladies and prosperity preachers are equally guilty in this regard. They both take the joy away from entering the presence of God. When kids are constantly told to stop running, quiet down, be serious, and such all with the reason given that “this is a church” we are teaching them bad theology and taking the joy that should come through fellowship with other Christians. It is bad theology because we are the church, not some building. It is even more bad theology because we make our gathering a burden when Jesus called us to let them come. We should do everything we can to make our Christian gathering the most fun and desirable thing on every child’s agenda. That doesn’t happen when we stuff them in uncomfortable clothes and try to force them to be somber.
Prosperity teachers are at fault because their primary focus is “give so that you can get”. Those Temple salesmen would have fit right in with those preaching a message that we need to give more to God to receive the blessings of God. The focus becomes on what I can do to earn the blessings of God. I pay this many denari to receive a sheep that will be my sacrificial offering. Basically I buy the grace and mercy of God. I pay money to receive my best life now. Jesus overturned the tables condemning such thinking. Martin Luther nailed his thesis on the door for the same. God’s grace, His mercy, and His blessings are gifts. They are not up for sale. It is past time to send them running from the house of God once again.
God, let me never put something else in between You and the people coming to worship You. Help me to never do or say anything that would turn people’s focus off of You. Help me not to create a pile of rules or expectations that would make worship of You a burden rather than a joy. Let me never become greedy for the gold or the glory that belongs to You. Be glorified in my actions. Be glorified in my heart and emotions. Be glorified in my life. Let me, Your Temple, always be a place where You and You alone are lifted up.