…And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold (Luke 19:45).
The Jerusalem temple was a reminder of God’s presence with His people, and animal sacrifices were a central component of the worship there. As the worshipper laid his hands on the animal’s head and confessed his sins, God transferred his guilt to the animal, which was put to death in his place. All these sacrifices pointed ahead to Jesus. He is the Lamb of God who would take our place and be put to death for the sins of the whole world.
Since Jewish pilgrims travelled great distances for the Passover feast, they were unable to bring along their own sacrificial animals. Jesus has no problem with sacrificial animals being available for sale or with moneychangers converting foreign currency into temple currency. His problem is where those animals were being sold-in the courtyards of the temple.
In holy wrath Jesus drives all of them out. He quotes Isaiah, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers'” (Matthew 21:13; see Isaiah 56:7). It is bad enough to make themselves robbers by selling the sacrificial animals at unreasonable prices. But even worse, they carry on their trade in the very courtyard of the temple, where worshippers are trying to pray to God amidst all these distractions.
The Jewish leaders are infuriated that Jesus would challenge their authority and interfere with their trade. But they cannot destroy Him because the great crowds of pilgrims are hanging on His words. As we’ll see in the coming days, His teachings will grow more pointed, and His popularity will continue to increase.
THE PRAYER: Almighty God, Your Son drove out all distractions from Your temple courts. Clear my mind of all distractions that I may worship You with all my heart, mind and soul. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.