Wisdom Devotionals

The Sanctuary

Monday, September 30, 2019

And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” John 2:15-16

There were a lot of problems with temple administration in Jesus’ day, and extortion was just one of them. 

Historians record that travelers were charged $20 just to enter the temple at Passover. On top of that, the priests disobeyed God’s command in Deuteronomy 12 that every Israelite should bring a pure animal from his own flock, and they sold sacrificial animals inside the walls of the temple. 

By the time of Christ, inspectors were stationed at the doors of the temple to check all incoming animals for defects. These examiners charged $5 from every person, and they often rejected pure animals in order to force travelers to buy from the temple market. Outside the temple a pair of doves cost as little as $20. Inside the temple they cost $375!  

Jesus responds to these moneychangers and temple-profaners in a way He doesn’t respond to anyone else throughout the four gospels. In fact, this brief episode is the only occasion we see Him react with such an explosive outburst of indignation. 

Don’t miss the reason why. He isn’t merely angry because the poor are being robbed and the worshippers are being deceived; He is angry because God’s sanctuary has lost its sanctity. God’s holy name is being trampled every time another coin drops into the coffer.

Now, we can easily apply this passage to churches that sell a health-and-wealth gospel, or to a Christian industry that largely models itself after a secular industry, but the place where we most need to apply this today to our own hearts. 

In 1 Corinthians 6:19, Paul warns us that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. God’s sanctuary in the 21st century isn’t the gymnasium or auditorium or living room where you meet on Sunday mornings. It’s you. 

Are you angered when you hear God’s name being blasphemed in movies and on television but unbothered by your own gossip and lust? Are you disheartened by the materialism and debauchery of church leaders but apathetic toward your own selfish striving after health, comfort, and pleasure? 

It’s possible to feel angered at the compromises all around us while feeling no anger toward the compromises inside us.

So what does Jesus see when He walks through the gates of your heart? Sexual immorality? Greed? Drunkenness? Materialism? Secular worldviews and ambitions?

Your body is not your own. It belongs to God. And just as the temple stood for hundreds of years as the symbol and expression of God’s holiness and purity, our lives should be doing the same. 

When the world looks at us they should see God in us; not because we have bumper stickers on our cars or because we wear Jesus t-shirts to work, but because His holiness is shining through us. 

So today, start with your own heart. Pray for Christ to come through and clean it out, so that pure, genuine worship can sound forth once again.