|A walk of over 100 kms (60 plus miles) brought Christ back to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. All Jewish men were required to present themselves in that city at least three times per year. On this occasion, it seems Christ went straight to the Temple and was shocked by what He found. Instead of a quiet place for worship and prayer, it had become a noisy cattle market.
If you have ever been to a large cattle sale or to a huge market place, especially in an eastern country, you will have some idea of the scene Christ saw and the noise He heard in the sanctuary that day. How did all this grow into such a state?
The answer is convenience coupled with greed. It possibly began in a small way. Someone suggested, “Let’s make it easier for the people to worship. Out of town visitors can’t be expected to bring their own animals. And we can’t allow anyone to use Roman money in the temple. They need to change it to Jewish coins.” It all sounded so good but it didn’t stop there. Greed then took over and the dealers exploited the worshippers unmercifully. No wonder Christ called it “a den of thieves”.
It all began with convenience but God has never planned that our worship would be a matter of convenience. Sacrifice, costly sacrifice, has been at the heart of the Christian message. David said it well, “Shall I offer to the Lord that which costs me nothing?”
Here we also need to see this market was held in the court of the Gentiles. Yet that court had been an invitation to the outsider to come and worship the true God. Now it was a market place. That said plainly, “We don’t want any strangers coming in and spoiling what we have.” Are any of our churches saying that today?
The Temple needed cleansing but the hearts of the Jewish people, especially the leaders, needed cleansing even more. May God quicken our conscience today and help us to see how real our worship is or what may be hindering His work in and through us.