12 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. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.
Matthew 21: 12-14 (English Standard Version)
When you read the passages on Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, notice where Jesus goes to first: the Temple. Jesus goes right to the seat of the Jewish faith; the center of power: the Temple in Jerusalem. This is not some storefront church in some back-end neighborhood; this was the Temple, Herod’s Temple; likened to the Vatican of Jesus’s day. Even more interesting, is what Jesus did arriving at the Temple. Did Jesus track down the High Priest and clergy to engage in discourse about the Scriptures? Did Jesus have himself and his disciples find the High Priests to sit at their feet and learn?
No, Jesus cleansed the Temple by kicking the moneychangers out of the temple courts. Jesus saw how these guys were peddling religion and fleecing the flock when the flock needed forgiveness. Jesus went ballistic and overturned the tables of the moneychanges; other versions of the story had a whip in Jesus’s hand which he used to drive the moneychangers out. Jesus became a one-man cleansing machine. He had to remind those present that the Temple was a house of prayer for all (ref. Isaiah 56:7), yet the moneychangers (with the priests’ blessing) turned said Temple into a “den of robbers”.
Then after getting the Temple straight, Jesus opened up the Temple to the sick (the lame and blind) and healed them. Jesus started to cleanse lives!
Now, I’m about to break esoteric and ask us how many of us need to some spring cleaning and “cleanse our temples”? As Paul wrote , we are the temples of God where God’s Spirit dwells (ref. 1 Corinthians 6:19). We are temples where people have come to us seeking comfort, help or prayer. However instead of being open and a blessing, we too have set up the “moneychangers” in our lives: preconceived notions of others and how they “should” be around us. We make people exchange their God-given value for the false “value” we place on them. We too become “robbers” of others’ spirits, ignorant of the fact that our own spirits are robbed.
We need to be places of healing for others, “houses of prayer” and sanctuaries for others. Right now, someone needs our prayers, our healing touches, our kind words to strengthen and encourage, someone to feel safe around, or even just our silent presence. We need to be cleansed ourselves so that we can heal and cleanse others-just as Christ did. If we call ourselves followers of the Christ Jesus; we need to do what he did. Jesus healed those many turned away in his day, how about us? Let us take this Lenten Season (and afterwards) to meditate on this so we can take that Christ-power to cleanse us and make us real temples.
Prayer: Father/Mother God, as we read about Jesus cleansing the Temple, help us to cleanse our temples. You called us to be places of sanctuary, prayer, healing and strength for our fellow human beings. However, we’ve allowed the moneychangers inside us to make people exchange their You-given value for our false idea of value. Help us to cleanse ourselves so we can be houses of prayer for all. In Your Name, Amen.