authority, contamination, death, discernment, hypocrisy, money, religion, temple, unclean, worship

Crooks and Robbers, #89

“Jesus Cleansing the Temple,” Jeffrey Weston

45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”

Luke 19:45-46

People detest hypocrisy. I’ve discovered that no matter who they are–pagan or devout believer, there is an awareness of this kind of religious evil. As I considered art for this post, I came across dozens, and dozens of different takes on this passage. One could open up a large gallery simply on “Jesus Cleansing the Temple.”

The priests and the merchants had a corner on the market. There was a need for pilgrim to have animals for sacrifices. But it was said that you could buy a pair of doves for 5 cents outside the temple, but once you entered they sold for 75 cents. The pilgrims also needed to change over their native currency to the temple money. That too, made a tidy little profit.

Jesus had visited the temple numerous times. He was dedicated there, and as a boy he taught the elders and priests. On his own pilgrimages 4 times a year, he witnessed the steady commerce that was done. Since the temple work went on 24 hours a day, the tables had to be constantly manned.

The issue here was authenticity. Keep in mind that this would be Jesus’ last visit. In a few days the authorities would publicly beat and then execute him. In some sense, Jesus was making a clear statement. Being fully God he had the right to declare the validity of what was going on. And it wasn’t good.

The temple was there for prayer. It was the place where God and man could meet each other. Every block laid, every pillar set, was a declaration of this idea. God and man reunited, with a sacrifice for sin. It was to be the official place where this would happen. And it would require a sacrifice for sin to open up a way to worship and pray.

“Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst.”

C.S. Lewis

Faith was hijacked by men who really didn’t believe. A flourishing industry had developed–religious language and ideas became the way to fleece those who really did believe. The greed of certain men had compromised real worship. Evil had worked its ugly way into the very core of the faith. It was an terrible thing.

The tables were located in the outer courts. These courts were as far as Gentiles could go–it was for them who wanted to pray. Jesus understood Isaiah, and quotes it in his rebuke, (Isa. 56:7). The religious evil that developed there was truly an abomination–and it had to stop.

We need to be aware that we’re definitely attracted to this kind of hypocrisy. We dare not point the finger too quickly –yes, we need to see it–not to pass judgement, but to understand the hatred God has for this sin. The temple of our bodies belong to him. He will enter our lives–he will flip our tables if he has to, he won’t tolerate our hypocrisy.

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anointing, blessed, broken people, compassion, death, disciples, gift, humility, Jesus Christ, love, worship

Pouring Out Your Oil, #88

“Jesus said, “Let her alone. She’s anticipating and honoring the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you. You don’t always have me.”

John 12:7-8, (context vv. 1-8)

She came and poured perfumed oil on Jesus feet. She massaged it in with her hair. What she did was out of love, and maybe concern? She knew and understood. Many of us deeply understand with what she did–Mary has become a person that we identify and engage. She is doing what we would have done. (At least we hope.)

That perfume was a concentrate–it was the source for smaller vials. The oil Mary used was undiluted and not weakened in any way. It was not diminished or thinned, it was powerful stuff. What she did was an extremely costly act. Notice that it was a whole pound–and the text states that the entire house was filled with the scent.

When Jesus was being scourged and crucified, the odor of that perfume would’ve been present. That smell was still there, and most likely it sustained, and even encouraged him. Perhaps our acts of love–of sacrifice, of deep worship mean far more than we realize?

But there will always the ones who are practical.

All they see is the incredible waste. Judas had a pragmatic, reasonable and more sensible position. The other 11 felt the same. As they analyzed Mary’s actions all they could see was the terrible waste. There came a point when Judas, who controlled the finances, just had to speak:

“Judas Iscariot (who was about to betray him), said, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” (vv. 4-5).

“He didn’t say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of the money-bag and would steal part of what was put in it.” (v. 6).

So dear one, who was right? The other Gospel accounts tell us that the disciples also felt this way, (Matthew 26:6-13). The general consensus was that Mary was far too excessive. After all, 300 denarii was a lot of money–a denarii was a day’s wage. It was probably more money they had ever seen!

It’s interesting that Mary unbound her hair. That was anathema in Jewish culture. It was the clear evidence of an immoral woman, a prostitute. But yet she did it. Mary did not stop to calculate public reaction. She knew deep down that it was the only thing she could do for him.

What exactly is worship? What part of it do we not understand yet? Does it matter what is in our heart?

It is interesting that was immediately afterward this that Judas Iscariot left, and set up an agreement to betray Jesus.

“Is anything wasted which is all for Jesus? It might rather seem as if all would be wasted which was not given to him.”

C.H. Spurgeon

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contamination, decision, disciples, evangelism, Holy Spirit, lordship, power, temple, worship

The Doves in the Temple, Entry #11

“And he told those who sold the pigeons, 

“Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 

John 2:16, (context 13-17)

The temple was meant to be a place where people could seek and find God. It was meant to be a place of seeking, of sacrifice, and a place of worship. It had no other purpose other than linking man to God. It wasn’t architecture, it was ‘reconciliation.’ The temple was God’s plan of making a way for sinners to engage Him.

Along the line somehow it became corrupted. Unscrupulous man had a way figured to make money off of pilgrims. The temple required temple currency, hence the money-changers who made a tidy little profit. The birds, lambs and bulls were suddenly provided to the worshipers as a convenient way to ‘sacrifice.’ (That made it easier if you had the cash to spend.)

“So he took some rope and made a whip. Then he chased everyone out of the temple, together with their sheep and cattle. He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and scattered their coins.”

John 2:15

Was this wrong? Did Jesus really make a “whip?” Did He really flip over tables like some sort of ‘religious’ brawl from some old western movie? I have to believe He did do this. Chapter 2:17 explains things like this:

“The disciples then remembered that the Scriptures say, “My love for your house burns in me like a fire.”

Jesus loved God’s house, at least for what it was designed for at the beginning. (Some translations use the word, “zeal.”) God’s heart is for fellowship with man. He desperately wants to engage us, to bring us directly into the “holy place of the Holies.”

He wants us there for the companionship. He seeks “friends.”

The doves? Jesus never hurt them. His anger wasn’t directed at them, but rather at the humans who made the birds available to be sacrificed. The Lord didn’t focus His displeasure at those fine feathered ones in the cage, rather He commanded that they be removed from the temple. No whip was used here, only understanding of the need for a kinder approach. (They’re just little birds after all.)

He really wants to fellowship with you. He will do whatever it takes to remove things that should’ve never been there in the first place. He ‘discerns’ the issues, and is very gentle, not an ounce more than is necessary will be applied to your life. He is supremely wise and astonishingly kind.

“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.”

-Francis de Sales

   

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