And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. Mark 11:15-18
Something dad tried to teach me was willingness to learn from anyone. He knew, and I’ve learned, you can’t know everything. This took years for me to realize. When I was younger, I felt I had to know everything, needing to be the expert. This was fueled by not being willing to learn from those I perceived to not be my equal. My personal pursuit of being all-knowing actually clouded my ability to do my job better. I’m certain I wasted years of usefulness.
Those listening to Jesus sometimes displayed a similar unwillingness to learn from him. Jesus was ‘upsetting the applecart’ for the religious leadership. This message wasn’t aligning with their vision of things. Jesus spoke frequently using metaphor. Jesus knew this stone and mortar temple in Jerusalem wouldn’t last. Its end was coming. If we do a little dot-connecting to Paul and his letter to the Corinthians, Jesus knew the temple as the center of Israelite worship would be replaced by God living in us through the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). All the glory historically present at the temple would take place within us, in a personal relationship with God. His message, in many ways, was diametrically opposed to theirs. The message of Jesus was so counter-cultural as to be a serious threat to their existence, at least that’s how they were seeing it. Later, Caiaphas would say it was better for one man to die (Jesus) than a nation (Israel), fearing Roman retribution. They weren’t willing to learn from someone perceived as not being equal.
Jesus’ message is still counter-cultural! Our culture is about consuming. If we seriously consider the way we live our lives, we might just find that we’re crowding our ‘temple’ with things that get in the way of our relationship with Jesus. Just like the mass of people hawking animals and who knows what else corrupting the purpose of the temple, things in our lives are doing the same thing with our ‘temple.’
Devote time today to considering your life and how you’re living it. Are there things in your life diverting you from a deeper relationship with Jesus? Does it inhibit being able to ‘live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus’? As you take this time today, pray for revelation from the Holy Spirit, and if something comes to mind, pray for help in removing it as a diversion. You might find yourself making this a daily practice!
By Rich Obrecht