“Not long before the Jewish festival of Passover, Jesus went to Jerusalem. There he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves in the temple. He also saw money-changers sitting at their tables. So he took some rope and made a whip. Then he chased everyone out of the temple, together with their sheep and cattle. He turned over the tables of the money-changers and scattered their coins. Jesus said to the people who had been selling doves, ‘Get those doves out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a marketplace.’ The disciples then remembered that the Scriptures say, ‘My love for your house burns in me like a fire.’” (CEV)
Jesus, the human which he is, has a complexity to him. Our Lord is not one-dimensional. Christ not only extends grace and mercy, healing the least and the lost of society; he also turns his burning love for the Father on those who would treat the sacred with sacrilege. There is a time for gentleness and meekness, and there is a time for zeal and action, done with flavor!
Jesus had a zero-tolerance policy toward using the representation of God, the temple, as the means to make money. As people from all over the Middle East poured into Jerusalem for the Passover, savvy marketers set up their wares. Knowing that not everyone could bring animals for sacrifice, the money-changers were more than ready to take advantage of the situation by providing sheep and cattle at inflated prices. The temple looked more like a marketplace than a worship space, and Jesus would have none of it.
Christ the Lord was consumed with zeal for his Father’s house. Jesus single-handedly took on the businessmen and drove them out of the temple courts with a homemade whip. Whereas the people seemed to settle for the status quo of secular Passover protocol, Jesus restored worship to its rightful place in the life of God’s people.
Jesus still has zeal for proper worship. As he did in the temple all those centuries ago, Christ rearranges the furniture and upsets how things have become. Like an extreme makeover, the Lord overturns tables designed for selfish gain and re-establishes a connection between us and God. He upholds holiness and righteousness so that you and I will have a clean and clear path of relationship with the sovereign God of the universe.
Sacred space is important, both as a physical room or building as well as in our own spiritual hearts. That space becomes the meeting place between us and God. The Lord wants a meaningful dialogue with us, and he will guard that place of connection with great zeal.
Christ Jesus, the one who zealously loves, you have gone before me and cleared the way for me to enter God’s presence. Thank you for your movement toward me, and your careful guarding of our relationship. May my time with you on this Lord’s day be an offering of praise and thanksgiving. Amen.