Where is Jesus in your life today? is He here with us in the house?
A man who faced a lot of worries went into a church that catered to the rich people. As soon as the man’s dirty cloth was spotted. A deacon got worried about the church’s image. He went to the man and asked him who let him into the church?. He replied, “I was praying and the Lord told me to come to this church.”
Then the deacon suggested the man go pray some more and possibly he might get a different answer. So, the next Sunday the man returned again and the deacon asked, “Did you get a different answer?” And the man replied, “Yes I did. I told the Lord that they don’t want me in that church and the Lord said, ‘Don’t worry about it son; I’ve been trying to get into that church for years and haven’t made it yet.”
If Jesus literally visited our church today what would he see? Is our home fit for Jesus to come in? Is our life clean that God can dwell in us?
This morning we are going to look at Jesus cleansing the temple and also draw some principles as to how we can cleanse our life.
We are looking at the final days of Jesus. Before he was arrested and crucified. We saw Jesus anointed at Bethany by Mary on a Saturday evening dinner. On Sunday morning Jesus entered Jerusalem from Bethany riding on a donkey. As Jesus was walking, a great crowd gathered on sides of the road. The people cut palm branches, shouted hosanna and hailed Jesus as King. On Monday morning Jesus entered the Temple of God in Jerusalem.
Now, this was the Passover time and the Passover was a week-long celebration. Also, the Law of Moses commanded all male Jews to visit Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. It was the time when the gentiles and converts to Judaism also came to the temple to pray and offer sacrifices to the living God. Now as Jesus enters the temple courts something upsets Him.
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves.
Jesus was visibly upset in the temple. What caused Jesus to get angry? For the fact that the Temple of God was being used for purposes other than it was intended for. So what was the purpose of the Temple of God? Well, to find that out let’s take a look back into the background of this temple.
The original temple was built by King Solomon on Mount Moriah.
Mount Moriah had a long spiritual significance. Where God told Abraham to take Isaac. He’s only son, and offer him as a sacrifice to God. The place where God provided a lamb to worship him. And also was the place where Abraham worshipped God. The Temple was built in the very same place. Now, David, Solomon’s father had developed the design of the building and of how to actually build it, and he had gathered and prepared many of the materials for it. However, it was Solomon who built the temple.
2 Chronicles 3:1
Then Solomon began to build the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah.
What was the purpose of the temple?
1 Kings 6:12-13
12 “As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, observe my laws and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father. 13 And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel.” The temple was a place to communicate with God. It was God living among his people. The temple represented the presence of God and it served as a place to pray and worship Him.
The layout of the temple of God.
Please see the floor plan for the Temple. The temple had Holy of Holies, Holy place, court of males, the court of women, court of Israelites, and the court of the gentiles.
The innermost section of the temple area contained the core of the temple – The Holy of Holies and the Holy Place. The Holy of Holies had the Ark of the Covenant where the presence of the Almighty God rested. And only the high priest was permitted to enter once a year. It was the Holy Place where the priests would regularly minister in the temple. Here the priests made sacrifices on the altar. They also made sacrifices for the people who brought animals to them. The innermost section of the Temple, the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place was separated by a huge double curtain. Measuring somewhere between 60 and 90 feet high.
Animal sacrifice had been a part of Judaism since the earliest days. You may wonder why we don’t still offer sacrifices today.
21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: You are a priest forever.’” 22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. 23 Now there have been many of those priests since death prevented them from continuing in office;
24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
The high priests in the OT
The high priests in the OT used to offer sacrifices for his as well as the people’s sin. Jesus Christ was the sacrifice for our sins once and for all. It is no longer necessary to offer sacrifices because Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. Therefore we do not have the sacrificial system because Christ was the perfect sacrifice. When we believe in His sacrifice our sins are forgiven.
Holy Spirit, the Court of Men
Overlooking the Court of Priests (Holy Place) was the Court of Men, which could only be entered by Jewish men. This is where the men would wait and watch as their sacrifices were being made. Also to get to this area, the men would have to travel through the Court of Women. This was not a place reserved only for women, but it was the stopping place for them. It was really kind of a social gathering place for both Jewish women and Jewish men. Even the Romans respected the restrictions that only Jews could enter this part of the Temple area, so people could talk freely. Here you would find scribes and scholars holding debates and teaching people, and in many ways, this area was the heart of the Jewish community.
Court of Israel
We have the rest of the Temple. An area called the Court of Israel outside which was the Court of the Gentiles and basically this was the only part of the temple open for non-Jews to come and offer sacrifices. It was also a bit of a tourist attraction. People all overheard about the Temple and wanted to see it firsthand.
Now, the Court of the Gentiles is where Jesus would have entered that day since He would have to go through here to get to the rest of the temple. What was it that Jesus saw when he arrived in Jerusalem that day? That upset Him so much? He saw a marketplace and people conducting all kinds of business there then He saw money exchangers cheating the people on their rates. He also saw people more concerned about making money than encountering God.
The purpose of the temple was to be a visible dwelling place for God on earth
Now, remember the purpose of the temple was to be a visible dwelling place for God on earth and a place for communication with Him. But what Jesus saw that day was a whole lot of religious activity with no real communication with God. In fact, he saw people using religious excuses for taking advantage of people.
Now, the reason for the business was not a bad idea initially, because practically people came from all over the world and they needed bulls, sheep, and doves for the sacrifice and it was impossible for them to get it from that far. Moreover, they could use only Jewish currency (shekels) inside the temple for purchase whereas the majority of the people had Roman and Greek currency. Therefore, people needed to exchange currency for the purchase and also the offering at the temple. So it all started for good reasons but now they were out to make a substantial profit, to the point that they continuously raised their rates and cheated the people.
12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 ……… “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
Probable reasons why Jesus got angry with the businessmen at the temple:
1. High Prices.
The merchants charged high prices. The bulls, sheep, and doves cost double the price in the temple. Have you ever bought coke from a bakery nearby and tried to have a coke at a restaurant. Almost double the rate even though the MRP is clearly printed. The temple purchase was a costly affair. People were exploited.
2. Disturbance for worship.
This market place created a disturbance for the worship in the temple. The cattle, money changers, etc. People all created havoc. The sanctity of the temple was not maintained.
The temple was a place to communicate with God. However, now the temple was being used for purposes other than it was intended for. So Jesus decided to take action against it.
What is the Temple of God in the New Testament?
Is the church the temple of God now? Is God present in this building? Of course, when we gather together He is here right in our midst and this is a holy and sacred place. However, the presence of God is not contained in a building. The presence of God is in the hearts of the people who believe in Him.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20……… Therefore honor God with your bodies.
In the New Testament, we are the Temple of God. God dwells in our bodies.
So what happened to the OT temple?
On the day Jesus was crucified. Just a few days after the events of this passage, something happened to the literal temple. The curtain in the innermost section of the Temple tore and separated the Holy of Holies and the Holy place.
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
Remember! The curtain was torn from top to bottom and it wasn’t torn by human hands. Rather torn by the hand of God. It was a symbolic event. That no longer His presence is confined. To a room separated from His people. Thereafter the barrier had been removed.
That’s why you don’t have to go through a priest to meet God, that’s why our faith isn’t based on a building or ritual sacrifices. Anyone who calls upon the Lord can have direct access to God through His Son Jesus Christ.
If you believe in God and have a relationship with Him, you are now His temple. This means just like in the OT temple God’s presence dwells in us in order that we can worship, pray, and commune with God always. Therefore, what Jesus did at the temple that day can be done even in our lives. Lets us see what exactly Jesus did at the temple.
Jesus at the temple
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves.
1. When Jesus enters, he drives out evil.
When Jesus enters anywhere, a temple area or a human heart, evil cannot stay. He drives out evil. God has the power to drive out every evil and every attack of the evil out of your lives this morning. Maybe today some of you are feeling bonded. Maybe some of you feel that the passion of flesh is lingering in your lives. Jesus can give you a breakthrough today.
I remember the real story of a husband and a wife (Jim and Nell Hamm) who went hiking – A hobby of walking in a natural forest. Suddenly a lion pounced on Jim pinning him facedown to the ground. Nell not knowing what to do approached and screamed at the lion. Then she grabbed a branch and began beating it on its back. The lion would not let go no matter how hard she hit it. Jim who was down and was trying to tear at the face of the lion. He told his wife to grab her pen and stab the cat in its eyes.
She did, but the pen broke. “That lion never flinched,’’ she said. “I just knew it was going to kill him.’’ Nell picked up the branch again and this time slammed it into the cat’s snout. The lion had ignored her until then. Finally, she had its attention. The cat stepped back and glared at her with its ears pinned back. “I thought he was going to attack me,’’ she said. Instead, the cat slipped into the ferns and disappeared.
Brothers and sisters, the evil one is just like that mountain lion. He hangs on! He never wants to leave us and never wants to let us do good things. The devil doesn’t give up very easily. It continues to claw its way into our lives in order to deceive, gain control and kill. But when Jesus enters in things can change, they will flee in His name.
2. When Jesus enters He calls for prayer
Our bodies and homes should be a house of prayer. The devil makes us so busy in our everyday life that we forget to make ourselves a house of prayer. God wants us to pray.
The early African converts of Christianity were very faithful to prayer. As their houses were small huts with lots of people. Each believer reportedly had separate spots in the forest where they poured out their hearts to God. The paths to these spots became distinctly marked; and when anyone began to decline in prayer time, it was soon apparent to others. They would then kindly remind him, saying, “Brother, the grass grows on your path, please pray.”
What about you? Does the grass grow on your path to God? For the Christian, prayer should be one of the most natural things we do every day, every hour of the day.
The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.
3. When Jesus enters He brings healing
Jesus brings both physical and emotional healing to his people. Sometimes it is God’s will that he heals you completely, but then there are other times where God takes you through sickness or a problem and may not solve it for you. Maybe you are dealing with your physical condition. Dealing with your problems for a long time. You are all discouraged. That why Lord are you not answering me?
Let me tell you, Jesus also brings emotional healing, it is a healing that comes to your emotions. Many of you are still in trouble, still in sickness but you are still alive and hoping for the future. This is because God has given you the strength of your emotions. How many of you are strong in the Lord this morning? This is an attitude that says no matter what happens on the outside my God is within me, he is my strength, and he will take me victoriously through this struggle too.
15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. 16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”
4. When Jesus enters, he initiates praise
A person with Jesus in him will automatically praise God. He cannot keep quiet. There will be praise and thanksgiving all the time. There is no personal agenda, it is all about Jesus. The credit, honor, and praise go to Jesus Christ.
Jesus is interested in visiting us. If Jesus visited the literal temple before his death, he is ready to visit your lives this even today. so the question is, Is Jesus in the house? How is your temple?
He is interested in coming into our lives. And cleaning our temple provided we let him in.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
If you have never known that God can dwell in us understand our body is the temple of God and if you call upon Him, make Jesus your Lord He is ready to come into you and make His dwelling in our body. You may say you are not worthy for God to dwell in you but yes, the first thing God ever does is to cast evil or sin out of our lives.
I John 1:8-9
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If you have never accepted Christ as our Lord and savior, open your hearts to Him, he wants to come into your heart and restore things.
If you are already in Christ how is your life when Jesus looks into you? Is Jesus in the house? Will he find an evil, prayer or Will he find praise? Will he find healing? All these are present in the presence of God. Jesus has the power to give it to you today. Amen.