saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.'” Luke 19:46 NABRE
Jesus arrives in Jerusalem and enters the temple area. The temple has many courts, including a Court of the Gentiles. In this court the High Priest allows merchants to sell animals for the Passover sacrifice. Every family needs an unblemished lamb as sacrifice, reenacting the first Passover, where the lamb was a sacrifice, its blood painted on the door post and the lamb eaten. Upon entering this court Jesus reacts to the merchants driving them out of the temple area. In doing so Jesus quotes the Hebrew Scriptures from Isaiah, “My house shall be a house of prayer” (56:7). In Jesus view, using the temple as a place for sales interferes with the purpose of the temple and so selling should be done elsewhere. Jesus then quotes Jeremiah revealing the deeper issue and why His action is so important, “you have made it a den of thieves” (7:11). Not only are merchants selling but they are cheating the people and using the feast as a means to charge extra for the lamb and require other costs like money exchange fees. The Prophet Jeremiah spoke of corruption and foretells the destruction of the temple. Jesus equates the corruption He sees similarly to Jeremiah’s prophecy of corruption and foretells the destruction of this temple as well, which occurs soon after His death.
This message from Jesus is about misusing the temple for other than prayer. Churches today may do the same, creating spaces where people come together and things are sold, connections are made for different kinds of business to potential customers. People’s intentions are always good but is there a risk of turning a place of prayer into a den for thieves.
Should a church’s purpose be diluted? Do you seek simple places to pray?This message from Jesus is about misusing the temple for other than prayer. Churches today may do the same, creating spaces where people come together and things are sold, connections are made for different kinds of business to potential customers. Click To Tweet
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