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Lent - Day 9

Day 9 Monday


That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1: 3).


John 2: 13-17
The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
Matthew 21: 12-13
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. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” 


John tells of this episode early on in his Gospel, whereas Matthew, Mark and Luke recount it toward the beginning of Passion Week. Perhaps there was more than one clearing of the Temple by Jesus. Or, as we have seen, perhaps John was narrating with theology providing his order rather than our usual chronology.
Either way, the Temple was meant to be the meeting place between the LORD I AM and humanity. People came from all over the world to pray and offer sacrifices at the site where the LORD said his name would dwell. In the Temple atonement for sin was made, prayers of praise and petition were offered, God’s Word was taught. As predicted by Solomon when the first Temple opened, people would stream to Jerusalem from everywhere to seek the LORD (1 Kings 8: 41-44).
In particular, people came to Jerusalem during the high feasts, such as the Passover. Rather than travel with animals to sacrifice, people purchased animals in the temple precincts. They also had to exchange their local currency for Temple currency. So there was legitimate trade occurring for, at least on the face of it, very spiritual reasons.
But as is so often the case, in home, business or church, logistics and merchandising can get in the way of the original purpose. Many of us have been to holy places and lamented how commercialized the site has become. So even in Jesus’ day, the Temple courts were crowded with tables of trade. People were paying prices set more for profit than fair value.  
Jesus, as the Son of his heavenly Father on a mission to save the world, grew disturbed that people truly seeking God were being squeezed out by all the getting and spending. He longed for people to meet his Father in prayer, not only the people of Israel but from all the world.
With that passion, and with the authority of the LORD himself, Jesus overturned the tables, scattered the coins, and drove out the merchants with a whip. It was a powerful, sustained, deliberate action. And it was no doubt provocative. Business people don’t like to have legitimate business interrupted, especially during high season.
But Jesus, who was himself the new meeting place between God and humanity, was emptying the temple of the old system of atonement, clearing the decks, for the beginning anew of the people of God who would become a living temple founded on himself (1 Pet. 2: 4-10).


Unrepentant Merchants
Who does he think he is?
Striding in here like he owns the place!
Something should be done.
He’s a menace to all honest working people.
We’ll never get the money sorted out.
We’ll never make up for losing our business today
The height of the feast.
He needs to pay.
Why did no one stop him?
Where were the guards? Don’t we pay for security?
Everyone was afraid.
Did you see the look in his eye?
He’s a big boy, that carpenter’s son.
I wasn’t going to step into that.
But I can tell you, they’ll hear about it from me.
He’s not even from around here.
This is out of hand, out of control.
Something has to be done.
He needs to be stopped so we can go back to normal.
Repentant Merchants (based on 1 Peter 2)
We come to you Lord Jesus as to a living stone,
The very corner and foundation of a spiritual house
Where spiritual sacrifices of praise may be offered to our Redeemer.
Build us into your living Temple.
Fit us into your body, the church.
We belong to you.
We gather to worship you, forming the Temple of your praise 
Anew, over and over again.
In your Temple we proclaim your excellencies.
You have called us out of darkness
And into your marvelous light . . . 
You have made of us one people,
Out of all nations, tribes and races,
For your cherished possession to be the light of the world.
Forgive us when we have clogged the way to you with coming and going, getting and spending, viewing and gaming. We have been restless in our consuming, going from thing to thing while missing the Main Thing! Drive far from us all sinful desires. Don’t let us do anything to block people from you. Make your church, your people, a home of prayer and praise for all.
These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20: 31).



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