Overturning Corrupt Religion
Lord, in a world that sees guarantees as a right, I trust in Your promises and Your help all the way through. Thanks be to God
Read Luke 19:45–48
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord… these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer” (Isa. 56:6,7).
Having firmly put himself in harm’s way, Jesus did nothing to quiet the coming storm! Although he had been there before, his coming to the Temple courts on this occasion was surely a fulfillment of prophecy: “Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple” (Mal. 3:1; see also Luke 19:44). The nonviolent way of Jesus did not preclude his causing mayhem in the Temple market and driving out the merchants. Jesus is the risk-taker yet again. This is a protest not against legitimate commerce and not against the Temple as such, but against corruption, the kind that can accompany religion. The priestly aristocracy had a monopoly in the courts and, not for the first time in Israel’s history (1 Sam. 2:12–17), were exploiting it for personal profit. No wonder they wanted to rid themselves of Jesus when he was such a threat to their vested interests. Jesus’ action was yet another reason for plotting to do away with him (47).
Yet a distinction should be made here between the priestly establishment and the Jewish people as a whole. Jesus was thoroughly Jewish, as were his disciples. Jesus was still very popular with the ordinary run of people who hung on his every word (48), and, for a time, this protected him. It was the powerful who saw him as a threat and conspired against him. The Jesus movement was true to that strand of Old Testament teaching that hoped for the nations to turn to Israel’s God (Isa. 56:1–8), whereas the “leaders among the people” (47) were more concerned with their own position.
Sadly, what happened in the Jewish Temple has also happened many times since within institutional Christianity. Too many individuals have shared in corruption. It is not only the Temple market that needed turning upside down and right way up.
How has God “turned over tables” in your life? What has he been cleaning out recently? How does it feel?
Father God, my heart is Your home, Your dwelling place. Enable me to make it a house of prayer.
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