By Michelle Jones
Mark 11: 11, 15-17
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve. [The next day]…Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
In this well-known story, Mark’s account makes a point of mentioning that Jesus made His way to Jerusalem and stopped by the temple two days in a row. The first day—just as the prophet foretold—He rode into town mounted on a donkey, stepping over palm leaves and cloaks, showered by praises. Then he entered the temple, looked around and left.
The next day was a very different scene. The humble Servant riding in became a righteous King driving out. Where appreciation marked the first visit, anger marked the second. The contrast was stark. Consider, though, what this means for us after Christ’s death, The Resurrection and the birth of The Church.
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor. 3: 16)
For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Cor. 6: 16)
Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. (Eph. 2: 20, 21)
You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2: 5)
The example of Christ in the temple is at times more daunting than His example on the Cross. Can we, as individuals and as a community, take clear-headed and peaceful stock of what is really going on inside us and between us? To own honestly what’s going on in “the temple,” and then, with premeditated violence and force, drive out anything that defiles it?
In me live all manner of unholy thoughts—unforgiveness, vengeance, greed, envy and hate. They are a thick layer of grime coating my heart. Hidden wrongs and offenses I’ve ignored or gotten away with litter the corners of my mind like so much broken and unusable junk in an attic. How willing am I to see it, call it out for the spiritual trash it is, and then allow the Spirit in me to clean house? How willing are we, as a community who calls itself Christ’s, to “look around at everything” and truly see what we have made of our Father’s house?
If a house of prayer is the desire of His heart, then a house of prayer we shall be. That is to say each of us and all of us can be, if we desire it, a dwelling place—a place of presence and rest for The Father, The Son and The Spirit. If we love Them, we will not offer them a hovel for Their living space.
Let Us Pray
Oh, Abba! It’s so hard to reconcile the condition of my heart, mind, soul and behavior with the truth that You desire to live with me. I am weak and most days without any ideas about how to just let You rid me of things I have clung to my whole life. I am at a loss, but I don’t want to be lost, so please give me the courage to say yes to the work You desire to do in me. Give me the courage to receive Your tender mercy and to believe that it is Your joy to draw me into Your loving embrace. I am embarrassed sometimes by what I know You see in me, but please don’t let that stop me from letting You in and letting You have Your way. Amen.
Michelle Jones is pastor of spiritual formation and global outreach at Imago Dei.