… “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”
John 2:16 (NIV)
At first glance, Jesus’ cleansing of the temple seems out of character for the Son of God. The one who encourages love and peace is depicted as upsetting people and violently imposing his will on them as he drives out all the traders from the Temple courtyard. These people were probably seen to be doing a useful job by offering services to people who had travelled great distances to celebrate the Jewish Passover feast in Jerusalem. These visitors to the city needed to buy animals for the required sacrifices, plus they needed money in the correct currency to pay the Temple authorities.
However, Jesus’ mind was on spiritual matters. The Temple courtyard area was supposed to be reserved for prayer, something that is far more important than having the correct animal sacrifice or currency. As John Hindley reminds us in his book Serving without Sinking: ‘A man is what he is on his knees before God, and nothing more.’1 While we could spend our lives worrying about all the logistics of life, it is more important to tend to our relationship with God. Jesus, when speaking about all the things we tend to be concerned about, said, “…seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33). He also gives us the invitation to: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
Luke 10:38-42 recounts when Jesus spent time with his friends Martha and Mary. ‘Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made’ but Jesus told her, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.” That one thing was to sit, ‘at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.’
I am not advocating laziness or abdication of responsibilities, but let’s remember that: ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat…’ (Psalm 127:1-2). While we work on our relationship with God, we can take great comfort in the fact that he is working out his good purposes in our lives, as well as in the lives of all people. The Bible tells us that ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love him’ (Romans 8:28), so while we may have our own equivalents of animal sacrifices and correct currency to contend with, let’s remember that God is sorting out all of this for us. Our priority is spending time with him.
Father, thank you that we have the wonderful opportunity of coming to you in prayer at any time. Please help us to appreciate and take advantage of this amazing privilege. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Study by Anthony Dady
1 John Hindley ‘Serving without Sinking’, p.130, The Good Book Company 2013.
About the writer:
Anthony Dady is a Minister in Grace Communion International and is the Regional Pastor for Wales, the Midlands, and Northern England.
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