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Matthew 21:10-17: Jesus Cleanses the Temple and Heals

Posted by adventbiblestudy on June 19, 2012


Matthew 21:10-17 The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked. (11) And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” (12) Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. (13) He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!” (14) The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. (15) The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.” But the leaders were indignant. (16) They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.'” (17) Then he returned to Bethany, where he stayed overnight.

Surrounded by thousands of followers, Jesus made His way into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey’s colt. The priests and Pharisees watching the procession asked, “who is this?” They had no idea their voices carried so far. Hundreds answered, It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Surveying the size and enthusiasm of the crowd, the priests and Pharisees commented among themselves. “What kind of leader do they choose to follow? One riding on a little colt while the donkey walks behind?” Others voiced their concern. “We must take counsel and determine the best way to handle this situation. His following is much larger than we had anticipated. Much larger than what has been reported.” The chief priest and his closest advisors whispered among themselves. “How are we going to arrest Him with so many people around? This will take much more planning than we had anticipated.”

Jesus stopped short of the temple, far enough away to take in the full view. The priests expected Him to spend time gazing at its splendor. Jesus knew He was on God’s schedule, the prophecies must be fulfilled on time and in order. Instead Jesus hugged and greeted the people along the way, paying little attention to the stone walls. This surprised the priests, who placed their trust and faith in the glory and strength of the temple stones, not the Corner Stone which passed before them.

Jesus instantly entered the temple court. Those inside cleared a path for Him. Jesus looked at the frightened looks on their faces. He did not come to harm them, but to save them. He looked at the cold stone walls lining the court of the temple. Gone were the blue, red, and purple curtains which lined the Tabernacle. Brass columns were replaced by white pillars. The simple laver symbolizing humility had been replaced by a series of elaborate baths. One priest continued his preparation. Instead of washing his feet and hands as directed by Moses, he simply dipped his fingers in the water and sprinkled a little on his face, being careful not to get any on his fancy clothes. Jesus looked at the far end of the court where the empty inner room was constructed. He shook His head in a soft motion as He turned His eyes to the ground. He knew the ark containing the tablets of stone with God’s commandments was also missing. Nothing remained of the original tabernacle. The priests had replaced everything with outward symbols of their imagination.

The sound of a bleating sheep caught His attention. Jesus looked to the side where the sacrifice lay bound with rope next to the sacrificial alter. The alter constructed at the time of Moses was designed and constructed to last generations, but was no where to be found. Erected in its place was an alter based on a Pagan design. Stone and iron replaced wood and brass used in the original design. The simple morning and evening sacrifices were replaced by a continual series of sin offerings. Everything in the temple court was arranged in factory like precision proclaiming the glory of the priests, who no longer took part in the sacrificial system, but assigned a group of attendants to keep up with the increased work load.

Jesus looked at the animals in the pens waiting to be slaughtered. He glanced back at the faces of the people. Some showed a look of wonder, others fear, while many simply looked bewildered. A few looked on with little of no concern. He looked over at the row of tables arranged in a single line as straight as the walls that housed them. There the money changers sat, long lines of people in front of each table. His gaze rested upon one money changer, who tried to withdraw, but the coins in front of him kept him in his assigned position. Absolute silence filled the court as Jesus stood there for some minutes, studying one, then another. Looking into their eyes, He saw the guilt stirring inside. Every eye in the temple court was on Jesus as He approached the first table. No one spoke. The man at the table looked around hoping one of the priests would come to his rescue. He stood up trying to call out for help, but nothing came out. Jesus leaned over, grasped the corner of the table, and in a single movement turned the table over. The silence was broken by the sound of coins hitting the stone floor and the crash of the heavy wooden table hitting the next. This sent the first two money changers fleeing. People began scrambling for the coins. Jesus quickly stepped over, flung the table off the one it had landed on, and over turned the second, then the third, until all the tables were turned. Men positioned at the last tables began grabbing the coins, stuffing them in their chests, and fleeing.

Jesus then turned His attention to the animals, opening cages of doves, knocking down pens housing sheep. Chaos filled the temple square as people scrambled for money, animals cried out, and men babbled in utter confusion.

After the last pen was opened, Jesus headed for the stairs. As He ascended the steps leading to the court chamber as the crowd began to settle down. Jesus raised His arms and pronounced, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”

Once again the temple court was silent, except for a soft steady tapping. Jesus looked down from the top of the steps. Other eyes scanned the scene of broken tables and pens looking for the source of the sound. Finally one man emerged from the crowd. Every eye was transfixed on the scene before them. A blind man using his staff was navigating the mass of scatter tables, wood, and wondering sheep, instinctively headed toward the sound of Jesus’ voice. A little girl ran up. Taking the man’s hand she softly said, “I can help show you the way.”

Tears began to fall from many an eye as the Spirit revealed the significance of the lesson before them. There in a mass of destruction and lost wondering sheep, God sent a message to every open heart.

As the little girl led the blind man up the steps to Jesus, other blind, lame, and sick people began to approach Jesus. As the priests looked from across the court, Jesus walked up, down, and across the steps healing every one of them. Children in the court began shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.” The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles, but cursed the Son of God inside their hearts. They could not see the love and care Jesus had for the people. Their hearts had grown as hard and cold as the stones around them. They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.'”

Jesus knew the priest’s plans, and knew His time had not yet come. He returned to Bethany, where he stayed overnight.

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