12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
This is passion week, the week leading up to Easter. Yesterday we celebrated Palm Sunday, Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Upon entering Jerusalem the King went not to a palace, but to the Temple, showing that He is God. For the passover people would come from all around the world to bring sacrifices to the Temple, so because of the distance of travel it was not considered feasible to transport sacrifices. Additionally, Roman money had pagan mottoes inscribed on it so it was not acceptable in the Jewish temple, so money changers were exchanging the money. The problem was the merchants were taking advantage of the poor by charging outrageous amounts for the animals and by taking exorbitant fees for the exchanging of the money. Add to this the fact that they were set up in one of the courts of the Temple where only prayer was to take place and you have a major affront to the Lord. What does Jesus do? He comes in and cleans house! He flips the tables over and throws their money on the ground and declares, “My house shall be called a house of prayer!”
The moral of the story is that the Lord is not honored by obligatory worship. How often do we attend a church service, give a little money, and go on about our lives unmoved and unchanged by Christ? Just attending a service doesn’t make you right with God, nor does giving money or volunteering in service to others. It is by humbly trusting Christ and living in obedience to Him that we express true worship. So today, ask yourself this question: “Am I just going through the motions of religion, or am I passionately pursuing Christ?” We are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and when Christ enters our hearts he cleanses us of all half-hearted worship. This week, as we venture toward the cross, may we repent of the sin of obligatory worship.