Today we are looking at the account of Jesus driving the money changers out of the Temple. I chose the version of this story from John 2:13-17, New International Version, accessed from Bible Gateway.com.
13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”[c]
John 2:13-17, New International Version, accessed from BibleGateway.com
I chose the story of this incident from the book of John because it clearly shows that Jesus was angry, to put it mildly. How does this apply today? Have we turned our churches into markets? Or as accounts from other Gospels say “a den of thieves?”
Are you saddened when you see churches being run as big businesses? Do you know of churches where the Senior pastor has the title of CEO or functions as one? Have you ever attended a church that charged for everything from Sunday School literature, to classes, to church dinners, to children’s Vacation Bible School? Doesn’t this exclude certain people? Does your church operate a bookstore where books and other religious merchandise are sold? Do you know that some churches charge for prayer or spiritual guidance?
Dig a Little Deeper:
What do you think Jesus would think about our big buildings with even bigger budgets? Would Jesus come into our churches today and start turning things upside down?
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Jesus, Matthew 5:10, NIV, accessed from BibleGateway.com
Let’s face it, living a righteous, Godly life has never been easy. There has always been opposition. The prophets suffered greatly for their calling. John the Baptist, Jesus and many others were murdered for their faith. Early Christians met in secret because of the persecution and death they faced if discovered.
Notice that Jesus did not say fight back. He said we are blessed when people insult us, make fun of us, persecute us. We are blessed (made happy) because it means we are living in a way that is different than ”the world” and people are taking notice. Persecution means others are recognizing the Christ within us.
In the world we live in now the temptation to not only fight back, but to kill and destroy the opposition is stronger than ever. Even “good church going folks” are falling prey to this. Some pastors are even telling their congregants to arm themselves. This is not the way of Jesus.
Remember we are blessed when the world turns against us. It means we are doing something right.
Dig a Little Deeper:
How do you handle persecution against your faith/”way of life?” Are you willing to take an unpopular stand to state you are for what is right? –Regardless of the cost to you?
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
— Jesus, Matthew 5:9, NIV, accessed from BibleGateway.com
It seems that many Christians have trouble with the idea of Jesus as a peacemaker and even more trouble with the idea of themselves as peacemakers. After all what can one person in this world do to stop the violence and pave the way for peace?
The answer to this is simple. We stop being violent. We become peace. We live, breathe and act out of peace. One person. One kind loving act. That is how it is done. Is it easy? Of course not. But is it possible? Yes, but we cannot look at the whole big picture of violence in the world because it will be overwhelming.
No one can wave a magic wand and make all war and violence stop. But we can calm the violence and anger within ourselves. Next, we bring our families, churches, and communities together in peace. That’s how peace spreads. One person at a time.
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
— Jesus, The Bible, Matthew 5:6, NIV, Accessed by Bible Gateway.com
Some precious souls can do many good deeds; they feed the hungry, help heal the sick and wounded, comfort the abused, visit the imprisoned and do many other good and honorable things. Yet these same people are often, themselves, rejected, misunderstood, seen as prey either socially, financially or politically and often do they cry out in their anguish for fair treatment.
How can we be an instrument of God to help the person seeking fair treatment find peace in God?
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
– – Jesus, Matthew 5:5 The Bible, NIV, Accessed via BibleGateway.org
Meekness in our world is often seen as weakness. But if we look at meekness as power under control we see a different picture. While power, position and prestige may be what is valued in the world today, and at the time this teaching was given, Jesus was living and teaching a way of life that would show the world God.
What does living a live of meekness or power under control look like in today’s world?
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
— Jesus, Matthew 5:4 NIV, accessed through BibleGateway.com
People who suffer from various forms of discrimination and unjustness at the hands of nonbelievers do mourn for the indignation of such treatment and for those who perform it because while not knowing it, such people, in reality, do not know God. They mourn for not only the injustice they feel by the perpetuation of the injustice dealt toward them but also for the loss of peace for planet earth by the expression of such hatred from nonbelievers and those who do not know how to express their faith.
How do modern world citizens mourn for the lost possibilities
of a manifestation of Heaven on Earth?
How does the Holy Spirof God comfort us through this?
The words of Jesus from what is known as The Sermon on the Mount — Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV) From Bible Gateway
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
You may be familiar with these words from the beautiful poetry of the third chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. Or perhaps you are more familiar with the musical setting by Pete Seegar known as Turn, Turn, Turn or popular renditions by Judy Collins or The Byrds.
These are words people turn to for comfort in times of change. This is a Scripture that is often read at funerals. So why do we find these words so comforting and reassuring? I believe it is because they speak to us of Divine Order. They remind us that life does have “seasons” that come and go, but the world keeps turning and life goes on. To everything there is a season…