Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'” Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant.
I think we have this idea that religious tradition is this idea or act that is so contrary to what real faith is, that it is clearly evident to most. I mean, when we see something that is happening that is simply a tradition or ritual, that has occurred for a long period of time, that has no basis in scripture, we clearly know that is just a religious practice. It’s not faith. It’s not scriptural. It really should have no place in church.
But it’s really not that clear.
Look at what Jesus did in the scripture above. He came into the temple and drove out the money changers and those who sold things in church. Yet, this had been going on for some time. It wasn’t new. It didn’t just pop up a week or two before Jesus walked through the doors. Apparently there was a large majority of people, especially the leadership, that saw nothing wrong with it. Those who did were in the minority and in no position to change things.
After destroying the tables and kicking people out, He took the opportunity to tell people something that they already knew, maybe they just forgot. ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,. How many churches today are known as, called a house of prayer? I’m not talking about their actual name on their 501(c)(3) forms or business cards. How many churches are known for being a house of prayer? Do people go throughout the community and pass by this church and that one and say to the person in the passenger’s seat, “People at that church pray. I see cars there all the time. I’ve heard of people getting healed there. If you don’t want a prayer answered, don’t ask them to pray because they get prayers answered.”
The thing with the religious tradition that Jesus kicked out, it seemed okay to those that went into the temple. Yeah, maybe they didn’t like the high prices for a dove offering, but it was the high prices they didn’t like, not that they were there in the first place. These were things that men had brought in, under the guise of faith, under the guise of their religion. And it was so closely associated with the Jewish faith that most didn’t see an issue with it. Unless you were paying attention and ‘discerning’ what was happening, you’d probably just accepted it as the way things were. Times were changing. This is how the temple is now.
But Jesus didn’t see it that way. He saw it as plans of men. Ideas that men had brought into the temple, into the Jewish faith, that stunk in the nostrils of God. In fact, some of these people might have had the best of intentions. They might have thought it would help so many if they could just get their offerings right at the temple. It would help so much if people could change out their money right at the temple and not have to go down the road.
These people, as well meaning and sincere as they were, were sincerely wrong. And God was not happy. He was so ‘not happy’ that He sat down, made a whip and ran people out of the church. When is the last time you saw the pastor get so angry at people’s unrepentant sin that He ran people out of the church? I don’t recall myself.
But here’s the thing: He wasn’t driving out people. He was driving out the plans of men. People were just associated with them. He was kicking out the ideas that man had about the way God should run His church. Men had this idea and to some it might have been to rip people off, some it might have been to make things more convenient, to get them closer to God easier. But no matter what the reasoning was, it wasn’t God’s idea.
There seems to be so much going on in church today that is man’s ideas and plans. How do I know? Just look at society. Jesus said His house should be called a house of prayer. If it was, people would be praying, God would be moving, and the culture would be changing. But it’s not. It’s the opposite. Evil seems to be rising up more and more. And you can’t tell me it’s because it’s the last days. If Christians are still in the earth, in the numbers that we are, the church should still be the salt of the earth. That means we’re pushing evil back. It mean’s we’re preserving the good things and getting rid of the bad. But you can’t do that unless you’re following God’s plans and His ways.
We have things in the church that seem good. They might have the best intentions. But it’s not God’s ideas and His way of doing things. Don’t get me wrong. We’re doing good in a measure, but nowhere near what we should be doing. We should be doing better than the book of Acts, but it certainly doesn’t look like it.
So look at what happened when Jesus kicked out man’s plans and ideas. Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did… they were indignant. When the plans of man, the religious traditions were kicked out, God had freedom to move and miracles took place. The power of God was on display.
But the religious leaders – those that wanted the plans of men, their own ideas – they were upset. And that’s the issue we have today. If someone’s plan or idea is shot down or removed, they get upset. You know, “That’s the way my great grandma did it when they founded the church.” Well, she was wrong, and if your grandma did it, she was wrong. If your mom did it, she was wrong. And if you’re doing it, you’re wrong – if it’s not God’s idea and plan. Don’t get upset, get with God.
If there’s things in our lives that need to be kicked out of the temple – we are the temple of the Holy Spirit you know, then we need to sit down, make a whip, and drive them out. If we need the help of the Lord, by His grace and power, sit down, pray about it and get it. Get those things out and get God in. And then just see what He does.
Stay with the Word and the Spirit.