The bible tells the story of Jesus cleansing the temple in Matthew 21:12-13:
12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He *said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ [a]den.”
When Jesus drove the merchants out of the temple and turned over the tables of the money changers, He was pronouncing His divine judgment on the corruption in the temple. Christ relied on scripture as the basis of His judgment. In fact, Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem that day on a divine mission. The day before, it was Palm Sunday. Jesus had entered Jerusalem on a donkey and was hailed by the people who laid down their clothes and palm branches in the road ahead of Him, shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David: blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest!”
But the next day, Jesus is turning over the tables and seats of the money changers and scattering the doves and other animals sold for temple sacrifice. The priests, merchants and Passover worshippers scattered.
Jesus was quoting Old Testament scripture from Isaiah 56:7, saying, “Even those I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer.”
Jeremiah 7:11 says, “Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight?” By referencing these scriptures, Christ is demonstrating His commitment to divine scripture. Then He pronounces His judgment upon the corruption He sees in the temple.
What was the corruption Jesus was cleansing? Under the auspices of Annas the High Priest, merchants were given franchises in the temple. They charged the worshipers 25% to exchange their money to the denominations and currencies used in temple offerings. In addition, under Levitical law, any animal approved by priests could be offered in the temple; however, the Chief Priests made sure that if the bird or animal was not bought from the temple merchants that it would be rejected. Worshippers had to pay ten times the value of the animal from the merchants. This is why Jesus called this activity a “Robber’s Den.”
Jesus wanted the temple to be a house of prayer. But the merchants were sullying the holiness of God by making it a robber’s den.
We need to ask ourselves: Is our life honoring to God’s holiness, or are we sullying God’s holiness?
We need to examine our lives to make sure that we are honoring God in how we live our lives. Are we too greedy or selfish? Are we keeping the Sabbath? Is our language always honoring to the God we serve? What do you need to cleanse from your life today?
Dr. Roger E. Holl is the pastor of Sterling Grace Community Church. Sunday morning worship service is held at 10:30 a.m. at the Sterling Senior Center.
• Dr. Roger E. Holl is the pastor of Sterling Grace Community Church. Sunday morning worship service is held at 10:30 a.m. at the Sterling Senior Center.