Tens of thousands of Jews came to Jerusalem each year from all over the world to celebrate Passover. What a sight it must have been. The morning after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He made his way to the temple to pray and teach the people as he had always done. But the temple courtyard was filled with noise and chaos. Imagine the temple grounds like a large football field, and it was filled with thousands of people shouting and arguing over the prices of the sacrificial animals. And if that’s not bad enough, hundreds of stalls of baying animals and the stench of their refuse filled his Father’s house.
So what was happening here? Wasn’t the temple a place of prayer? Yes, it should have been. Allow me to connect the dots for you. The people came to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices once a year to God, but it was too cumbersome to travel with their animals, as you can imagine. So most people purchased their offerings at the temple. But the priests were taking advantage of the people by selling sacrificial animals at premium prices and charging oppressive fees to exchange their foreign currency. Can you imagine how angry you would be? In other words, the priests were making a killing by going into the animal and banking business.
So Jesus took action! And let me point out, Jesus was not some wimpy dude that most paintings and movies portray him to be. Jesus, like King David, was a manly man, a warrior who was physically strong enough to single handedly drive the merchants and the money changers out of the Temple, while yelling “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’, but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ” (I would have loved to have been there to see Him in action.) Jesus had a very specific purpose for cleansing the temple. He wanted to teach the people without the distractions of the world – so they could listen and open their hearts to the saving grace of the Gospels.
Today, we no longer have a temple that is made of stone. We are temples of the Holy Spirit! So it’s important to ask yourself, is my body a “house of prayer” or is it a “den of thieves?” Have I robbed God of his rightful place in the center of your life? Am I listening to God and his instruction in the quiet and stillness of my heart? Or am I filling my heart with noise and chaos? Am I filling my life with the distractions of this world, distractions that can only lead to despair and ultimately, death.