Jesus cleansed the temple

Pastor Hanna Ng

Read: Mark 11:15-18; Matthew 21:12-13

When Jesus and His disciples arrived in Jerusalem, Jesus went to the temple. At the temple, people were buying and selling things at unfair prices. He turned over the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. Jesus demanded all those who bought and sold to leave. He stopped everyone who was trying to use the temple as a marketplace.

Jesus began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?’ But you have made it a den of thieves!”

The chief priests and experts in the law did not like what Jesus had to say and began looking for a way to kill Him. They were afraid of Him because the people were amazed by what Jesus taught.

Buildings can have many different uses and purposes. A garage is built to store a car or items to care for a car. A hospital is built to care for sick people. A school is built to teach children. A church is built for believers to meet to pray and worship. But what happens when a building is not used for what it is intended for? Well, when that becomes the case, the people using the building are distracted from what it was intended to be used for. Imagine what would happen if a hospital was used to store cars or a school was used to treat sick people. That is kind of what happened in the Bible story you heard today.

The temple was built to be used as a place for people to come for prayer and to worship God. But in the temple Jesus went to in Jerusalem the people were using the temple as more of a market place. Because there were so many people in the temple buying and selling things, the people who came to pray and worship were distracted. I imagine it was very noisy with people and animals filling the temple and probably very hard to find a quiet spot to sit and worship or pray.

When Jesus saw what was happening, He ordered all the people who were doing business that did not include prayer and worship to stop what they were doing and leave immediately. When Jesus ordered these people to leave He was showing His commitment to honoring God by restoring the temple to what it was originally intended for–prayer and worship!

Just as God intended the temple to be a place of prayer and worship in Jesus’ time, He intends for the church of today to also be a place for prayer and worship. The main focus of the church should be prayer and worship. Prayer is an important part of a church’s worship and its work. And when we worship God we are responding to the great things He has done for us and others.

Of course people can do many different things in a church building and the church is more than just a building. The church is really the group of Christians who gather to worship God. So no matter where your church gathers, remember that the purpose and intent is to be a place of prayer and worship.

Review Questions:

1. What was happening in the temple when Jesus arrived?

2. What did Jesus teach the people about what the temple should be used for?

3. How is your church a place of prayer and worship?

Pray: God, please help us keep our focus on worship and prayer when we are at church. Help us to remember what you have made the church for. Help us to not become distracted by things of this world. Amen.