Cleansing the Temple • Devotion #1: Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning will be soon upon us. With the change of the song birds’ voice to daylight savings, spring cleaning is as natural as the change of the seasons. With the buildup of winter’s baggage, we find ourselves compelled to rid our homes of unwanted grime. With a checklist in hand, we go from room to room vacuuming, dusting, washing, and disinfecting as we go. This annual rite of spring for most adults is brought with expectation and enthusiasm for what the finished product will be. There is nothing like a house that has been cleaned and awaiting the greening of the lawns and budding of the trees. I appreciate the wonderful smell of spring as it flows through the recently cleaned screens and takes the place of the stale air of winter. You begin to smile when the smell of Honeysuckle, Lilac, and Autumn Olive begins to take full effect. If given a chance to reflect, you wonder how it became so dirty in the first place and vow for it to never happen again.

Two thousand years ago in Jerusalem, we see another house that needed a spring cleaning. As the Temple was being prepared for Passover, merchants were selling animals for sacrifice, money-changers, and others were bartering and selling their wares as if it were a market. The problem was not that the practice was unethical for providing unblemished sacrifices or currency exchange, but for using the Temple as a place of business and not worship. Angered, Jesus cleared those in the Father’s house by fashioning a whip out of cord and driving both seller and buyer out of the Temple. His zeal for keeping the Temple pure was an all-consuming desire which prompted Him to act swiftly. He was determined to keep the Temple clean.

Psalm 69:9 prophesied of this event, “For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.”

We find in all four Gospels that Jesus chased out those who would disrespect God. In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Synoptic Gospels), we read that Jesus teaches those that are listening that their actions are as robbers. Instead of selling their wares, they should be in prayer and worship to God. Those disrespecting who God is, have made the Son act decisively and with authority. He is determined to clean house.

In all three Synoptic Gospels, we find Jesus reiterating that the Temple is a house of prayer. Throughout the New Testament, we find Jesus in prayer. At His baptism (Luke 3:21), choosing the twelve (Luke 6:12), in the garden (Matthew 26:42), and the raising of Lazarus (John 11:41-42)are just a few examples of Jesus in prayer. How important must prayer be then if He not only teaches it but is obedient to it? As the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.” Wecan assume that every time an important decision was made, He was in prayer to the Father. How could He have cleaned house without first praying? Knowing the will of the One who sent you should be the first and most important aspect of “cleaning house.”

In our own lives, the term “cleaning house” can have different meanings. From the literal to the figurative, the act of cleaning house looks different for each one of us. In a spiritual sense, when we clean house, we are attempting to rid ourselves of those things that have become a deterrent to a close relationship with God. From the very desire of idols in our life to those sins that continue to fester up over time, we should want to be closer to Him through our obedience. Through His Word and prayer, we have a greater chance of understanding His hope of change within us. As the Holy Spirit leads and guides us, we should start to see improvements as we live our lives according to His will. Remember, sanctification is not a passive process, but one in which we take an active role. Through His own actions, Jesus shows us that prayer is where you begin if you want to know God’s will. If the struggle to renew and refresh seems impossible, remember He has shown us the way by humbly asking in prayer (Matthew 6:9-13).

Are you ready to clean up your house? Are you ready to show Him how much you love Him and are willing to let go of the sins in your life? It is a question those of us that call Jesus Lord, must ask ourselves. Are we willing to call out and allow God to “sweep the house,” cleaning us from the inside out, or are we content to let the dirt remain? That is the real question.

“Let my plea come before you;

deliver me according to your word.”

Psalm 119:170

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