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We all have certain pet peeves, those things that get under our skin and make us mad. Maybe it’s certain drivers or people with certain driving habits. For me, it’s being called “Buddy.”
Buddy is not my name. My name is Keith. My momma gave me that name and that’s the one I want to hear. But whatever it is for you, some things just make us angry. On the Palm Sunday that Jesus came into Jerusalem, a day that should have been a highlight of his ministry, he was filled with two emotions that would seem out of place for him. First, Jesus was sad, one of only two times He is described that way in Scripture. And then he was angry, to the point of overturning tables in the Temple courtyard and scattering the merchants. What would cause Jesus to act like that? Let’s look at Luke 19.
Look at verses 41-44: “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
Being God, Jesus knew the hearts of the people lining the streets to greet Him. He knew that only a week later, most of them would be calling for Him to be crucified. He also knew that the city He looked upon would be destroyed. Both of these things broke Jesus’ heart because, just as he is today, He did not want to see them suffer and face the results of their sin. It is the same kind of sadness we feel when we tell someone about Jesus and they reject us.
Check out Luke 19: 45-46: “Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
Jesus was upset because of two things. One, the money changers were ripping off those faithful Jews who were there to make their sacrifices to God. Two, they also tried to keep out the Gentiles who wanted to worship God, even though God had said he would bless those who were committed to him in Isaiah 56:6-8: “And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar, for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” The sovereign Lord declares that he who gathers the exiles of Israel: “I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered.”
In the same way, we should have a welcoming and accommodating attitude for those visiting church or who show a real interest in Christianity. Are you a bridge or a barrier? Are you a good witness or a bad witness? It is interesting that this was actually the second time that Jesus had torn apart the temple marketplace. The first time is described in John 2:13-16, at the beginning of his ministry. In the same way, Jesus cleanses our temple, so to speak, when we first become followers of His.
But old habits can sneak back in, new habits can become commonplace, and so Jesus needs to clean house once again. This is not something to be afraid of. In fact, we ought to welcome his cleaning.
So what is the condition of your temple? Is it clean and presentable? Or are there areas that you wouldn’t want those closest to you to look at? Maybe you’ve tried to clean things up on your own, and it hasn’t worked.
If so, the right thing to do is say, “Jesus, will You just come in and clean house? Every room is open to you. Have tour way with me.” He is willing, and you will be glad you did.
Brother Keith Miller is pastor of the English Christian Church in English, Ky.