Monday: Cleansing The Temple
“My House Will Be A House of Prayer.”
Still riding a wave of popularity He knew would soon dissipate, Jesus entered the temple to pray and found His Father’s house a degenerate den of thieves. I wonder how He would feel today, entering our temple of worship and prayer. What would he find there today if he were to walk in on us during the week. Is our house a house of prayer, or is it transformed to a den of iniquity?
Annas, the real power behind the throne of Caiaphas, the High Priest, had a good thing going. He was not unlike many today. He was a religious man who followed the law to the extent that any Sadducee thought adequate, and more so than most. He was, after all, the cornerstone of a dynasty of high priests. He knew the law as it was written, but more importantly he knew how to interpret it to his own advantage. Though the existence of the Jewish State within the context of Rome was a precarious thing, Annas had seen to it that his personal fortune was well padded by the activities of the religious community; the tithe, the temple tax and profits from his share of the sale of sacrificial animals and the money exchange.
Like the celebration of Christmas today, the Passover was a single week in the year in which the temple would raise a quarter of its annual profits. Given the greed of their Roman rulers, times were tough and the last thing the business of the temple needed was the disruption of some itinerant, self righteous rabbi.
The problem for The People of God was that Jesus had to enter the temple in the first place, as opposed to Him already being there. You see, the Shechinah Glory of God had left the temple long ago. When he built the temple, Herod could have used some of his gold to write ”Ichabod“ across the East Gate and closed the doors, but where would be the profit in that? There is much business to be done and the traditions of The People of God are an economy unto itself. The simple fact is that the religious leaders of The People of God had led them into apostasy. They had all together exchanged their faith for religion.
How about you? What is the condition of your own temple? Have you exchanged your faith for religion? Is Jesus within, or would He have to enter from outside? What would he find there? Would He find a house of prayer, or would He write ”Ichabod“ across the door?