Posted by Pastor Mike San Martino
Jesus was a celebrity on Palm Sunday, entering Jerusalem to cheering crowds shouting “Blessed is the King of Israel.” On Monday, however, the cheering was interrupted when Jesus started man-handling merchants, upending their tables, and booting them out of the Temple courts. In your Bible you might see the event listed as “Jesus cleanses the Temple” as if he were using Windex and a damp cloth! In reality, Jesus was angry at the lack of obedience of the children of Israel. (According to the Gospel of Mark’s chronology, he had cursed the fig tree earlier in the day.)
“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. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” Matthew 21:12-13
You can imagine how quickly news spread through Jerusalem Jesus was opening up the Temple courts for free prayer. The merchants were gone and “The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.” Matthew 21:14
The religious leaders were furious with Jesus’ audacity but the children responded with pure praise. “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. ‘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?’” Matthew 21:15-16
What strikes me is Jesus’ removal of the commercialism and business of the Temple made room for healing and praise. Could we have a similar reaction to Jesus during our time of sheltering-in-place? Our frenzied, busy lives have been interrupted as radically as Jesus interrupted buying and selling in the Temple. We are no longer carpooling, attending soccer matches, watching concerts, going to movies, and doing many of the things we were doing before COVID-19. What a great opportunity to simplify our lives, spend time with Jesus, and rejoice in the Good News!
My devotion today was inspired by a post Brian Cook received from friends in South Africa:
“In three short months, just like He did with the plagues of Egypt, God has taken away everything we worship. God said, “You want to worship athletes, I will shut down stadiums and arenas. You want to worship musicians, I will shut down every venue. You want to worship actors, I will shut down theaters. You want to worship money, I will shut down the economy and collapse the stock market. You want to worship your own bodies, I’ll close down all the gyms. You want to worship your own intellect and pat yourself on the back with a graduation, I’ll close down your schools. You want to place your trust in your friends and not in Me, I’ll make sure you can’t even meet with them physically. You don’t want to seek my face and worship Me, I will make it where you can’t go to a place of worship.
“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Maybe we don’t need a vaccine, maybe we need to take this time of isolation from the distractions of the world and have a personal revival where we focus on the ONLY thing in the world that really matters…. God!”
Discussion/Application: Like the children at the Temple, how will you praise Jesus this week? In what way, will you take advantage of the extra space in your life to invite Jesus in? How will you simplify your time in worship? How will you give him your full heart?
Prayer Prompt: Dear Jesus,
We complicate our lives with busyness, help us make you our first love during this time of opportunity. Help us get back to the heart of worship. We know it is more than singing a song. You search much deeper within. You search our hearts. Jesus, I am sorry for the busyness and distractions that have crept into my life. You are my King of endless worth. I can’t express how much you deserve. Even though I’m weak and poor, All I have is Yours, Every single breath! Like the little children praising Jesus in the Temple square, I’m coming back to the heart of worship, And it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus. (Inspired by Matt Redman, The Heart of Worship)