Cleansing the Temple • Devotion #3: Prayer or Profit?

As we are in this series leading up to Easter, we continue by examining Jesus’ actions in driving the money-changers and vendors out of the Temple. Please begin by reading Mark 11:15-19. Take a few moments to read this passage.

We meet Jesus as He makes His way into the Temple, sees what is happening, overturns tables, drives out the money-changers and vendors, and concludes by reminding His listeners of a passage in Isaiah 56:7. The passage says, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the peoples?” Jesus adds to this by saying, “But you have made it a den of robbers.”

Until I studied this passage to write this, I always thought of this as a story about Jesus’ anger towards the money-changers and vendors for ripping people off. As we see through Jesus’ quotation though, the point He was making was that the Temple is supposed to be a place for prayer and worship. Furthermore, the court where this took place is the only place in the Temple that Gentiles (non-Jewish) people were allowed to enter to worship. Jesus is angry because Gentiles do not have a place in the Temple where they can worship since their area had been turned into a market. As Grant Osborne says in his commentary on Mark, “The temple was intended for prayer, not profit.”

The application of this passage for Christians today is not that we must keep our church buildings really clean and not sell t-shirts in the lobbies. Rather, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?… For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” If you are a follower of Christ, you are the Temple where God’s Spirit dwells! Are you a place where people of all nations know they can commune with God? Are you known for being someone who prays? When you say you are going to pray for someone, is that your only prayer for them? Or do you actually take time to intercede for them later on when it is just you and God talking?

Christians no longer have to go to the Temple to be in God’s presence. If you are a follower of Christ, God’s Spirit goes with you because He is in you. That is a sobering thought for me. Today, take time to consider what that means and if you have been putting it off, pray for those who you have said you are going to pray for!

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