These last two chapters are rich and full of so many incredible parables, and I would love to expound on those, but today I want to pick out a small section of scripture from this chapter and teach on that.
Matthew chapter 21 verses 12-17 describe the time when Jesus clears the temple. This is actually the second time that Jesus clears the temple. The first time is near the beginning of His ministry. We read about it in John 2.
Both occurrences happened around the time of Passover because thousands of people would have been making the trip to the temple, which was the center of religious activities.
This would mean that people from all over the world descended on Jerusalem and the temple that week. The religious leaders and merchants saw it as a time to profit and missed the reason many people were there in the first place.
There were money changers who would change their foreign currencies into the local ones for temple coins because the temple taxes and the animal purchases could only be paid for with local currency, so they were charging outrageous exchange fees. These merchants were set up in the court of the Gentiles. Many people sold animals for sacrifice because trying to travel with your sacrificial animals would prove to be extremely difficult. Still, they were sold at much higher rates than anywhere around, and those that did bring their animals were having them rejected and were being forced to purchase new ones that were approved.
Jesus seeing this, comes in and pushes out the merchants, gets rid of the tables, and empties the temple because the very spot in the temple that this was set up was the court that foreigners could come into to worship, so they were being forced to worship in the midst of all of this craziness.
Jesus tries to eliminate all the roadblocks for those coming to worship.
What a great message for you and me as we come to church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. How can we eliminate roadblocks for people who are coming to worship? How can we keep the focus on why people have actually come to the church?
Can we lay down selfish pride and attitude and surrender our seats, look past clothing that doesn't fit our tastes, go out of our way to welcome those around us, look for people who have those questions on their faces, and do everything we can so Jesus can touch their life?
At the close of that section, that is precisely what we see Jesus do. He is ministering to those that come to Him.
At times in my life, I have been one of those indignant religious leaders saying you ignored our custom; why would you not do it my way.
Today can we agree to make it easy for those coming to see, hear, and know Jesus? This means that, at times, church may be precisely how you like it. The songs you want, the style of preaching you enjoy, and the perfect length of service. But there may be other times that you don't like the songs - worship anyway. Or maybe the message isn't as exciting as you hoped, or it's a few minutes longer or shorter than you are looking for - but still allow Jesus to apply that truth to you.
Remember Jesus' words about the temple - "My House shall be a house of prayer." The primary focus should be worshiping Him. So, the next time we come into the building, let's do everything we can to come with the right focus and help others do the same!