Today’s Bible Study is a little short, but, given the situation, noted in the video, this story fit right in as a story by itself. I pray that God uses this to draw you closer to Him.
15. And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; 16. And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.
After cursing the fig tree, Jesus went into the Temple. If you think of the previous night’s activity as a surveillance mission, we see that He knew where to go as He began to throw people out of the Temple. At this point in time, the corruption of those buying and selling in the Temple was so great that it had become a house to prey instead of a house to pray, and those doing the preying were the ones buying and selling – most likely buying the animals from people who brought their own to sacrifice because it wasn’t good enough, and then selling another animal back to them at inflated prices. Those who traveled to Jerusalem, especially during the time of Passover, had no other option but to take the deal. Would you take a week to walk back home and then tell people you didn’t get a chance to offer your sacrifice because it was blemished? And, then when the deal was made, the payment was to be made in Temple drachmas which the nice money changers could arrange to sell you at a hefty premium. Jesus was appalled at what the Temple had become and He took action.
Some apply this story to the idea of selling anything in church. I don’t know if that’s a proper application if things are being offered at a fair price AND it doesn’t become the focus of the worship or a necessity to engage in worship. A worship band or a singer selling their music or a special speaker selling their books after the service may help people continue in the spirit of worship that they just experienced, but making someone buy something so they can sit in the worship service would be a problem.
17. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Although I didn’t use this word earlier, Jesus was angry at what was happening. As He dealt with the problem in His anger, He used God’s word to justify His anger. (Isaiah 56:6-7) The shocking commentary is that God’s House of Prayer for all nations has become, instead, a den of thieves. (See Jeremiah 7:11) My pastor preached on this a while ago and he mentioned that by calling it a den of thieves, He wasn’t talking about the danger of the situation in the Temple, He was talking about the quality of the people. Instead of all nations gathering for prayer, the Temple had become the gathering place of thieves. There’s a popular meme going around that says, “When you ask ‘What would Jesus do? Remember that throwing over tables and throwing people out are possibilities.”
18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
Do you know why the scribes and chief priests heard what Jesus said? They heard it because He wanted them to hear it. Jesus was calling these guys out because they were the people responsible for maintaining a godly atmosphere in the Temple and they had neglected their duty. I have no doubt that they were profiting financially from all the goings on – getting some kind of a kickback from the merchants. And these so-called leaders were afraid of Jesus because of what Jesus taught – not only as a general rule but also in this specific incident. Jesus had torn back the curtain on their perfidy and they would never be able to practice it, nor gain the respect of the people again. As long as Jesus was alive. Their only option to remain in power was to destroy Jesus and remove Him as a threat.
19. And when even was come, he went out of the city.
After a day of clearing out the Temple and teaching the way of the Kingdom of God, Jesus and the disciples left the city and returned to Bethany. I imagine Jerusalem was a bit of a madhouse in the days leading up to Passover, especially given the rumors of a Messiah entering the city and the way Jesus upended the goings on in the Temple. Anytime you have a festival going on, you have a mixture of the best of people enjoying themselves, or coming to worship in this case, and those who would take advantage of true worshipers. It’s loud and joyous and, at times, dark and dangerous. That may be a part of what made Jesus angry: the very people who should have been protecting the worshipers were the ones taking advantage of them. This was the filling of the “Markan sandwich.” Today will be short for reasons explained in my video and we’ll look at the top of the sandwich next week.