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Wednesday: Clearing the Temple — 16 Comments

  1. The cleansing of the temple seems at odds with the character of Jesus portrayed in the rest of the Gospels but it needs to be understood in the context of what was happening in the Temple environment. The sacrificial animals were supposed to be without blemish, so businesses had sprung up to examine lambs and doves brought in for sacrifice to ensure that were perfect. Of course the worshipper had to pay for this and often the animal was declared imperfect and was encouraged to buy a certified perfect replacement animal. Further you could not use any foreign money so you had to exchange Roman denarii and the like into Jewish shekels. All this business was done in the outer courts of the temple and not content with simply providing a service, they were ripping off the worshippers. There was no consumer watch organisation to ensure that people got value for money. And of course, as always, the people who could least afford it were ripped off the most. Worship had become a business and in the process, had been reduced to a commodity to be sold to the consumer at market rates.

    Clearly Jesus took aim at a "worship" structure that had lost sight of what the true meaning of worship was all about. And we have to ask ourselves whether we are in danger of thinking of the modern church as a commercial enterprise rather than a community of believers. Can that be an issue for us?

    Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.James 1:27

  2. Hi Maurice,

    James 1:27 is one of my favorite verses. I agree with you that true religion is what James says.
    Thank you!

  3. I recently learned that there are 2 temple clearings reported in the Gospels. The one recorded in John was at the start of Jesus ministry, following the wedding of Cana. The other recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke was at the conclusion of Jesus ministry - His last passover on His way to the cross.

    I suspect these are not the only details that have been overlooked in the most common understanding of these two events.

    Amongst bible commentators, there are 2 views of what was going on here. The most predominant is that Jesus was displaying "righteous indignation" whereby "forceful"/"violent" actions (commentator's words, not mine) are justified - even by God. If God is self-renouncing, and this view is correct, it will lead to a certain portrayal of how God manifests His self-renouncing nature under certain circumstances. And it can then impact how we might manifest self-renouncing love in response to situations- such as the one posed in the question at the end of today's lesson.

    The other view is that Jesus was definitive in what He was doing, but not in the forceful way that has been most typically portrayed. IF this is true, then this would lead to a different portrayal of how God manifests His self-renouncing nature in all circumstances. Could it be that the inherent 'authority' that people recognised in Matt 7:29 and Mark 1:22 was again manifest in these instances? IF so, this 'authority' carries power - but not in a coercive or violent manner. And because is not coercive or violent, it is in fact the strongest/most 'powerful' form of 'authority' possible.

    Something to consider: IF the typical view of Jesus 'righteous indignation' is what took place, how is it that in Matt 21:14-16, the blind and the lame straight away came to Jesus for healing and the children(12 year old boys who were present) were shouting Hosanna to the son of David? Would they not instead have been a bit fearful? Something doesn't add up.

    At the end of the day, it comes down to which view of Jesus (and by implication) God we see and believe. And that view impacts how we portray God to others in our words, attitudes and actions towards others.

    What do you think?

    • Oh, our human’s limited and finite minds! How hard is to see justice and mercy as one. We either go heavy on one side, or the other: Mercy, mercy, self-renouncing mercy, or, punish, punish, justice to punish. Dealing with sin, God is both to carry the plan of salvation to the destination, as a railroad parallel track. They both are needed together in synergetic way; equally balanced.

      I used to be on one-side-only mindset, until I understood the other side to be biblically the same as the previous one. To make it “easier” for me, I now jump from one to the other -back and forth- when studying on a specific subject in the Bible, and at the end “seeing them ‘merging’ as one”. That “strategy” helps me a lot. I take peace knowing that we will be studying such in heaven/new earth ... but again, not even eternity will be long enough to comprehend this whole issue of God dealing with sin.

        • ...You’re welcome.
          Phil, have you ever read the book “The Desire of Ages” by Ellen G White?
          If not, I challenge you to do it 😊

          (BTW, did you know that there are more “two instances” of Jesus doing the same? E.g. After His baptism, Jesus visited Nazareth two times. -I’ll let you have fun finding the other ones 🙂)

          • Thanks Eli

            What do you believe that I will gain from reading Desire of Ages?

  4. “I do not believe we shall thoroughly purify any church by Acts of Parliament, nor by reformation associations, nor by agitation, nor by any merely human agency. No hand can grasp the scourge that can drive out the buyers and sellers, but that hand which once was fastened to the cross. Let the Lord do it and the work will be done, for it is not of man, nor shall man accomplish it.” (Spurgeon)

    Even when Jesus drove out the sellers no lasting reformation was accomplished. Probably by the end of the week the money changers and sellers in temple court returned to their work. True reformation begins in the heart and comes out in action.

    The bold action of Jesus drove out the merchants and money changers from the temple courts did not discourage the needy from coming to Him.

    The blind and the lame were restricted to the court of the Gentiles; they could not go closer to the temple and could not go to the altar to sacrifice. why? Because they were cursed by God; however, Jesus then ministered to the outcasts who congregated there.

    After driving out the money changers and the merchants from the temple courts, Jesus got back to doing the business of the Messiah, a significant part of which was showing the power of God in the context of compassion and mercy.

    Greed and theft in the temple didn’t bother the chief priests and scribes, but praise to Jesus did.

    There are mistakes which can happen in human administration are we willing to acknowledge and change or are we becoming bold in defending our stand?
    "if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God.”

  5. True religion to me is to visit those who are sick in hospital or have mobility issues at home ,in nursing homes ( I don’t go at set times. I go out of the blue.) Feed them if need be at lunch or tea time. Sometimes that’s when you get the best conversations & you become a familiar face to people with dementia. I also make sure I have contact with their immediate family incase there is a problem. Sometimes there have been.

  6. When we talk about true religion, although before Deity we are all the same, there is no way to separate faith from action. Nowdays we also see religion as a business! Thus, sometimes it should even pay taxes! The fine reason for religion to exist is to do good for people!

  7. “ God‘s love for His church is infinite. His care over His heritage is unceasing. He suffers no affliction to come up on the church but such as is essential for her purification, her present and eternal good. He will purify His church even as He purified the temple at the beginning and close of His ministry on earth. All that He brings upon the church in test and trial comes that His people may gain deeper piety and more strength to carry the triumph of the cross to all parts of the world. He has a work for all to do.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 228. “Humility and reverence should characterize the deportment of all who come into the presence of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 252.

  8. Obviously we all should be concerned about the use of the temple of God today especially in my union, most pastors and church leaders are more interested in buying and selling in which they gain from rather the true way of worship. Its an issue that many churches have neglected this true way of worship. May God help us

  9. 🙂 Phil, this is on answering your question to me:

    Maybe better if you don’t read it, because if you do, you will kick yourself over and over and over and over again, and over and... ...when you find out the missing blessings from reading it 🙂...And I’m not kidding!

    We read and study the Bible because we know it is God’s Word good for our salvation. It is His message of salvation to us.

    Yet, God in His infinite wisdom saw that we (in this generation) needing much extra help, due to our finite, limited, sinful, selfish and full of pride and self-wisdom, minds. That’s why He gave to this generation of humans the messages through EGW. A little light to help us with the big light.

    However, many of us think and believe we are smarter and wiser than God Himself by rejecting His help ...kind of saying to Him: “Ahhh, thanks but not thanks. I’m good. I got it all figured out all on my own. You are self-renouncing. See? I know...”

    So, what you will gain? Answer: All that you had lost ...and loosing! ...And much more which you have no idea 🙂

    The only way you know how good is a good apple (or mango, or whatever fav fruit is of yours) is by eating it yourself! “Taste and see how good God is -Psalm 34: 8” ....Same principle here 🙂

  10. The Lord has always shown us the true and best way of worshiping even since Habraham. What Jesus did at the Temple was a way of teaching us not only to worship but to behave in the presence of God.


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