If you knew that you would be executed on Friday, what would you do on Monday? What would top your final to-do list?
On the Monday of Passion Week, Jesus did what He had done at the beginning of His ministry. Immediately after the water-to-wine miracle at Cana, Jesus had gone to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. “In the temple he found people selling oxen, sheep, and doves, and he also found the money changers sitting there. After making a whip out of cords, he drove everyone out of the temple with their sheep and oxen. He also poured out the money changers’ coins and overturned the tables. He told those who were selling doves, ‘Get these things out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!’ ” (John 2:14–16, CSB).
Just as He had done three years earlier, Jesus cleansed the temple. “Jesus went into the temple and threw out all those buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, ‘It is written, my house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of thieves!’ ” (Matthew 21:12–13, CSB).
At the tip-top of Jesus’ priority list, the number-one item: Cleanse the Temple.
The courtyard, the Court of the Gentiles, that surrounded the temple-proper, had been transformed into a raucous marketplace. Herds of sheep and goats were penned, ready to be sold to pilgrims from afar. A few oxen were available for the richest visitors. Cages of dove and pigeons were ready for the poorest worshippers. Tithes and offering had to be paid in the prescribed coinage, so the vendors were hollering and hawking like merchants on the midway.
It smelled like manure and the sounds were deafening. Into this riotous upheaval, Jesus confidently strode and immediately claimed control. “He overturned the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple. He was teaching them: ‘Is it not written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves!’ ” (Mark 11:15–17, CSB).
It was a metamorphosis. A transformation. Just as He had calmed the storm on Galilee, Jesus restored the temple. “The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them” (Matthew 21:14, CSB). Once again the temple became that place where Jesus could lovingly meet the needs of the neediest ... like me!
The New Testament teaches us that every Christian’s heart has become the dwelling place for God’s Holy Spirit, the Temple of the Living God (I Corinthians 6:19). This begs the question: What filth needs to be removed today?
May I suggest... Jesus’ priority today is a bit of house-cleaning!