The Cleansing of the Temple: Jesus Challenges the Religious Establishment

Scripture: Mark 11:15-19

The cleansing of the temple serves as a powerful example of Jesus challenging the religious establishment and pointing to a change in peoples understanding of God.

In this event, in Mark 11:15-19, Jesus enters the temple and becomes angry at what He sees. He sees merchants selling animals for sacrifice and money changers exchanging currency for special temple coins. In both these cases He sees people not only making profit from religious duty, but they are also turning the purpose of the temple into ‘a den of robbers.’ Rather than be a place of worship, a house of prayer and devotion to God, this temple has become a place of material and worldly profit.

It is no wonder that Jesus becomes angry. That He reacts in such a way as to destroy these tables, set the animals free, and cracks the whip on the animals’ hides. This description in the gospels of Jesus’ ‘righteous anger’ shows how much Jesus cares for the temple, cares for the proper worship of God, and cares for any defilement and injustice of such worship.

However, alongside the reality of Jesus coming into the temple and turning its tables over, so too Jesus turns our understanding of worship upside down. With Jesus entering the world, coming as the King, and being divine Himself, we find that true worship is no longer centred on a place but in a person.

This is the new understanding of the worship of God.

Rather than a centre for sacrifice and cleansing, Jesus Himself becomes the sacrifice, Jesus does the cleansing of sin through the cross and resurrection.

As we reflect on the Easter event this week, and as we make our way through this narrative toward the cross and resurrection, may we understand more fully the true worship of God in light of the true sacrifice and cleansing that Jesus has done for us.

Perhaps a way to think about this is through the lens of what occurred at the temple and then how Jesus changes everything for us.

We can be cluttered with anxiety, long to-do-lists, and life stressors but Jesus comes in and helps us find the peace that surpasses understanding.

We seek after profit or pleasure, but Jesus comes to give eternal life and enduring joy.

We expect to pay our own way to worship God and be accepted by Him, but Jesus comes to pay it all.

We judge ourselves by the rules we make up, but Jesus comes to help us understand it is by faith and a matter of the heart.

The temple had lost its true purpose, but Jesus understood that He was the true purpose for the temple.

May He be the true worship of our lives.

This is a devotional series I’ve written for my church for Easter Week 2023. It follows the Passion narrative in the Gospel of Mark. This is day 2 of 8.

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Author: Jon

This is me.

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