The temple courts in Jerusalem were filled with merchants selling animals and money-changers dealing in currencies. Jesus entered the temple, overturned tables, fashioned a whip and drove out those engaged on commerce.
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.’” Mark 11:16-17
The Bible does not record any direct opposition, but only saying He would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts and desecrate this sacred space. The merchants likely scattered in fear as Jesus had just entered the city amidst triumphant shouts of Hosanna.
The people knew conducting business within the temple was wrong, but no one had dared to stop them. Jesus made a sacred place sacred again.
The temple courts didn’t initially begin as a marketplace. Sacrificial animals were sold outside the gates as people entered. Business thrived so some entrepreneur stepped just inside. There was still room for prayer, but greed knew no bounds. It was a prime location and business was good, so a second came inside, and a third. Soon, the entire courtyard was filled with sounds of business instead of prayers. When there is easy money to be made, dens of thieves will find ways to make it.
In the same way, we were made to be holy, created in the image of God, until sin steps inside the gate. If there is no resistance, in comes a second, then a third. Before we realize it, places created for prayer and praise are filled with money-changers in pursuit of the next big deal.
I would expect the following day in Jerusalem, one brave merchant may have peeked through the gates then opened shop again, ignoring what Jesus had said and done. What was made sacred was sacred no more.
When Jesus steps into the courtyard of our hearts and drives out all that does not belong, we should take note of the sacred He makes sacred and the holy He makes holy and let nothing else through the gates. Easier said than done.
Jesus never said it would be easy, only worth it.
We may fail, just like in Jerusalem; however, when we invite Jesus though our gates, He will clean the clutter and restore our innermost parts into sacred spaces, by His immeasurable Grace.
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