The event recorded in Matthew 21:12-17 speaks volumes to us today. Jesus cleanses the Temple, the place consecrated to worship God. The religious leaders had made the temple into a common market. Jesus said that they had made it into "a den of thieves." Theses activities were taking place in the Outer Court of the Temple, or the Court of the Gentiles, the place set aside for the Gentiles to approach and worship the Most High God. They were not allowed into the Inner Court where the Jews were allowed to worship because they were not Jews. The Levites had allow the Court of the Gentiles to become the place where people were able to buy the animals for the sacrifices when they came to Jerusalem to worship. Because many of them were coming from foreign lands and other cities and they did not have the required currency for the temple worship, the High Priests and his family had set up money changing stations to concert the currency. And, to make matters worse, they were charging exorbitant rates to convert the currency. All of this defiled God's Temple. This angered Jesus and was the reason He turned over the money changing tables and drove out those who bought and sold. Again, they had defiled the Temple of God.
There are several things I am led to point out here for our reflection and introspection:
1. Studying the commentary on these verses, we learn that the Levites had allowed the selling of the animals and the doves for the sacrifices. The ones responsible for the worship and the place of worship were the one who allowed the defilement. They probably reasoned that they were doing it for convenience sake; yet God did not call us to convenience nor to make things convenient for people. Christ, being in very nature, God, took the inconvenient step of taking on human flesh, living in this world and dying on the cross to fulfill the will of God in providing salvation for you, me and countless others. He is our example. Stop looking for convenience or the convenient way. Look for God's way!
2. The High Priest saw a way to make money. They also defiled the Temple of God! Again, we must not look for ways to make things convenient for ourselves or others when it comes to spiritual things, if they way displeases God and undergirds defilement. God has not called us to agree with people in their sins. He has called us to preach righteousness and truth. God has not called us to become rich in material things at the expense of people through extortion or false prophecy or any other means that brings defilement to God's temple.
3. Under the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit dwells in each believer. Our bodies are His temple under the New Covenant.
"Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
God rightly calls you, His blood-bought saint, "My house." Are you conscious of that, day by day and moment by moment? Is your spirit, soul and body a fit dwelling place for God? Are you, by His grace, keeping it clean? Is it a "house of prayer" - or is it a "den of thieves" in which you rob God of the preeminence He justly claims? Are you listening attentively to the Spirit's instruction through the Word, filling your heart with His truth and clinging to it, so that there is no room for the lies and contradictions of Satan? Or are you filling your heart with the things of this world?
You must seek God's cleansing continually. Never deny that you need it. In 1 John 1:8-9 we read this: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." But - "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Strive to keep God's temple (your body) clean every day.
Reflection and Introspection: What Does Christ Expects of Us Today?
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"Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers." (Proverbs 11:14 NLT)