World English Bible translation
11:15 They came to Jerusalem, and Jesus entered into the temple, and began to throw out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of those who sold the doves. 11:16 He would not allow anyone to carry a container through the temple. 11:17 He taught, saying to them, "Isn't it written, 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations?' But you have made it a den of robbers!"
11:18 The chief priests and the scribes heard it, and sought how they might destroy him. For they feared him, for all the multitude was astonished at his teaching.
This is the second day that Jesus has been in the city of Jerusalem during this trip according to Mark. On the first day He rode into the city with the cheers of the crowd. They shouted Hosanna! and they laid their cloaks in front of Him as He road into town. They thought that He was riding into town to rid them of the oppression of the Romans. They wanted to see a physical Kingdom of God established immediately. But the closest disciples of Jesus had been told that He was coming to be handed over to the chief priest and the scribes and that here He would die and rise again on the third day.
On the second day Jesus comes into Jerusalem (for He never stays within the city except for the night of His arrest) and He goes to the Temple. Now the Temple in Jerusalem was a unique place. There is nothing that physically exists today that is equivalent to the Temple in Jerusalem. Our churches today are not the same. The Temple was the place where God's presence manifested in the world during the Old Mosaic Covenant. The Holy of Holies within the Temple was so sacred that only the Chief Priest could enter and then only once per year and with extensive preparation. The Temple was supposed to be the most holy place in the world.
But a practice had arisen that Jesus found objectionable. People needed to buy sacrificial animals. City people and people from afar off. So, the priest of the Temple set up commercial areas in the outermost portions of the Temple to sell these sacrificial animals. The outermost part of the Temple could only be used for Gentiles and infidels so it was no great loss. And because people were coming from far away, the moneychangers were invited in to convert the currencies of the world to acceptable coin.
All of this had built up over time so gradually that most people didn't even notice anymore. But when Jesus saw what was taking place, He became furious. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and drove the merchants from the area. He even stopped the people from using the Temple area as a shortcut to get from one part of the city to the next. He reminded them that the Temple was supposed to be a house of prayer for all the nations. Because of this, the chief priest and the scribes were afraid of Him and made plans to destroy Him.
It would be easy to try to apply this passage to a physical place that we consider holy today. But Paul taught us that WE are the Temple today. God resides within those who have been called according to His grace and mercy. Once God dwelt in the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem. Today He dwells in the hearts of men and women that are in Christ.
What we can say is that Jesus is just as zealous that we keep the temple of our own hearts as set apart and as holy as He sought to make the Temple in Jerusalem. He wants to help us clear out the "den of robbers" in our own souls. He wants to cleanse your heart of the sin that so readily creeps up on you unawares. Let Him come in and drive off the moneychangers. Let Him purify your heart today!
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