Dear Student of the Word,
As I am editing my study of John for publication, I want to continue editing my study of Luke and presenting it to you in this format free of charge. In this week's study, we look at Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem on what we now refer to as Palm Sunday. As always, Jesus used this event as a teaching moment to impart truth to the people. In this seven-part study that you can download below, here is what I wrote in part six:
Study Twenty-Seven, Part Six
45 Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. 46 "It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers.'" 47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.
19:45 – The Temple in Jesus’ day had become a mall, a central business district for God’s work. There were money-changers to exchange currency for the many travelers who came to Jerusalem. So that people would not have to bring their sacrifices with them, merchants sold sheep and other animals for worship. What’s more, the high priest’s family got a percentage of all this commerce, which is why the High Priest wanted Jesus out of the way—He was bad for business.
There is nothing wrong with all this business, except that it was overshadowing the more important work that the Temple was to represent. The Temple was to be a house of worship and prayer, not commerce and trade.
The same is true today. The Church should not primarily be a place of business, although business is part of what the Church has to do. It can’t be all about selling books, collecting money, building structures, and promoting ministry “stars.” I was convicted in my own ministry of how often I talked about me instead of Jesus, how often I talked about prayer instead of praying.
19:46 – Jesus quoted from Isaiah to justify what He was doing:
"And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant — these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Isaiah 56:6-7).
Jesus wasn’t simply condemning the business practices of the Temple; He was also condemning the fact that the Temple had become a closed area instead of any open one. The Temple was to be a house of prayer for all nations—all nations were to have access and all nations were to be lifted up in prayer. Instead the Temple had become an exclusive club, open only to “pure” or “purified” Jews. That was never the Lord’s intent. I wonder if the den of robbers didn’t pertain more to the fact that the Jews had stolen the mission of the Temple, which was spiritual and evangelistic, and turned it into something that was commercial and parochial.
19:47&48 – Jesus never did anything in secret. He taught in public, but the leaders were plotting in secret to kill Him. The leaders were unsuccessful because the people hung on Jesus’ words. It is amazing to me that the people had more spiritual sense than their spiritual leaders. Being a spiritual leader is no guarantee of spiritual correctness, yet many leaders today portray themselves as “little popes.” They act as though they are always correct and automatically know better than “the people” because they are leaders. This attitude is flawed, and thus the leaders and people who subscribe to that belief are flawed as well.
Can you imagine? The leaders who represented God and maintained God’s system were plotting to kill God in order to preserve what God had given them. What is wrong with this picture?
If God has showed you something or given you something to do and leadership doesn’t agree, don’t assume they are automatically correct. They may be, but then again they may be wrong. No one can hear from God for you. That is your job.
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse New Testament studies, along with the daily devotional entitled The Leadership Walk. Thank you and I hope you continue to enjoy this study of Luke's gospel from God's word.