Jesus is the Son of Man
Jesus in the Temple
All right! Please turn in your Bible with me to Luke chapter 19. Jesus has arrived in Jerusalem! Finally.
And the Gospel spend more time on this week in time, his week in Jerusalem, the last week of his life, than any other event, time period, anything else in Jesus’ ministry.
Sometimes we tend to think of this part of Jesus’ life as, He enters Jerusalem and immediately goes to sit down at the Last Supper. But there is a lot that goes on in Jerusalem the beginning half of the week.
We will see here in Luke, for the next 2 and almost 3 chapters, that Jesus is going to spend time addressing things that need to be addressed before He leaves this world.
The first one, we are going to look at this morning is one of the most well know, most oft referenced, and one of the least deeply understood stories of Jesus earthly ministry.
This incident, or one just like it is recorded and taught in all 4 Gospels. However, there are cultural nuances and aspects that we don’t think about in regard to this story. There is a lot from the Old Testament that plays into this situation and scenario. And there are ways that we try to justify ourselves and our actions and heart based on this story. But its so much deeper than that and there is more to it than permission to get angry.
On that note, let’s go ahead and read this week’s passage, Luke chapter 19, verses 45 through 48. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please grab your preferred translation and follow along as we read the very Word of God.
Luke 19:45-48, the Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record:
And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”
47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.
May God Bless the Reading of His Word
So, as we said earlier, Jesus has arrived in Jerusalem. And it makes sense that he would immediately go to the Temple. That is the cultural, and spiritual center of Jerusalem.
Now, Luke’s Gospel is short on details and background, so I will be referencing and pulling info from the other Gospels. This story, or a similar story take place in Matthew 21:12-16, Mark 11:15-18 & John 2:12-22.
Luke tells us that Jesus goes in and starts driving out “those who sold” from the temple. Matthew says that they were those who bought and sold, money changers and those who sold pigeons.
SO, the first thing we need to do is to ask, Why? Why did Jesus throw these people out? Why did he drive them out? Why did he flip the tables? And the answer is more complicated than we can get from just a surface level reading.
Trying to keep a long story short and yet provide all the relevant information.
All Jews were required to come and offer a sacrifice in the temple. However, it was burdensome to travel from all over Israel to Jerusalem with lambs, goats, pigeons and whatever else they might have been bringing. Because of this, there were always an abundance of animals for sale in Jerusalem and specifically, in and around the temple. There was also a required temple tax that had to be paid and specifically had to be paid in the local currency.
And so, with all of this, there were money changers there to convert currencies and charging pretty high exchange rates, gouging those who were there to pay the tax. At the same time, there were those who were selling the animals for sacrifice, and were, in modern terms, charging prices like a big city feeding off tourists. And so, it was a combination of price fixing, over charging, exorbitant exchange rates and the likes that contributed to Jesus’ mood, more so than just simple selling.
And so, Jesus starts driving them out of the temple and he quotes scripture. Two texts in fact he combines to one statement. He quotes first from Isaiah 56, which Mike read earlier, that His house, Gods House, the Temple, shall be a house of prayer for all nations.
The context, of course, being that all are welcome to come and worship God. If you want to worship the All mighty, come one and all and worship him. The temple was supposed to be a house of prayer for all nations, not a bunker for those who believe to hide from and keep guarded the truth of God. Gentiles were supposed to be invited, welcomed, and taught the truth of God. The section of the temple that the selling and money changing was taking place, the outer courts was called the “Court of the Gentiles.”
That is what the temple, that is what the Jewish people were supposed to be. Starting back in Genesis 12, Gods famous promise to Abraham, He tells Abraham, I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
In 1 Kings 8, we see the dedication of the temple, which inspired Isaiah 56 where Solomon calls for all the peoples of the world to come and worship the LORD.
Jesus said earlier here in Luke 19 that his purpose was to seek and save the lost. He famously says elsewhere that it is not the well who need a doctor, but the sick.
And of course, the Great Commission in Matthew 28, where Jesus tells his disciples and all believers who would follow what their purpose is. Before he ascends and leaves them for the last time, until he comes back, he tells them go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded and baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The point, when all of these things are brought together, is that we are to be actively attempting to spread the Good News of the Gospel. We are to be bringing the Gospel to those who don’t know and have not heard of it. That’s why Missions are so important. That’s why Village Missions is so important. There are many here in America, including rural America who have not heard the true Gospel. Sure, some have heard the name of some guy named Jesus. Sure, Christianity is one of those religions, like Judaism, Islam, and so many more that brainwash their followers and try to get them to acting morally superior. But they don’t know what Christianity truly is. They don’t know why its good news. They don’t know who Jesus is and they certainly don’t know him.
And the Gentiles at this time didn’t either. And so, God continually told the Jewish people that they were supposed to spread the good news and be a light on the Hill. They were not supposed to bunker down, not supposed to build barriers, not supposed to create stumbling blocks.
Jesus says my house is to be a house of prayer. That’s what it is supposed to be. But that’s not what it is right now because of you money changers and price gougers.
And he says that, instead, they have made it a den of thieves. This part he is quoting from Jeremiah 7. Verses 8-11, God tells them:
“Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. 9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations? 11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes?
One commentator writes: That is exactly what the temple had become: A den of robbers. The people of Jeremiah’s day were robbing God by neglecting the poor, forsaking widows, and abandoning orphans. Yet in their hypocrisy they still came to worship as if they had done nothing wrong. In effect, the temple had become a safe house- a place for criminals to gather.
The gist of that is this: Don’t come in here Sunday morning, acting righteous and pious and holy, acting betta than, when you have spent all week living for the world and doing what ever your heart has desired.
Of course, to be clear, this doesn’t mean that only perfect people can come to worship on Sunday. Just the opposite in fact. There are none righteous, no not one. But come to worship with a contrite heart. Continual repentance is the key. Trust in Jesus and that when he says you are forgiven, that you are actually forgiven. Paul writes in Romans 8:1 There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Don’t pretend. Don’t play a part. Don’t act as if you belong to Christ, when you don’t know him. It does nobody any good. It only creates false assurance in yourself, and it makes others feel false condemnation.
Recognize your sinfulness. Recognize your need for salvation. Recognize your need for the Savior. Recognize that Jesus is that Savior. That he offers salvation. That he offers forgiveness. That he offers assurance. That he alone offers these things. Recognize the miracle that has taken place when through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, through the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, you are brought from spiritual death and you are made alive in Christ, eternally alive, made a child of God, adopted into his family and made a co heir with Christ.
Playing the part, acting a role, not welcoming and accepting outsiders and newcomers, not having the heart that Jesus called us to, all that does is make his house a den of thieves instead of a house of prayers.
Now, Luke says that Jesus was teaching in the temple daily. Marks Gospel shows that, in addition to teaching in the temple daily, Jesus was teaching as this event was going on. As he was driving these guys out, Jesus was teaching as well.
SO, we see, from that, that, yes, Jesus was mad. He was angry. He was driven to action. But in his anger, he did not sin. He was still in control of himself. This was not a wild, out of control rage.
And that is why I urge you to proceed with extreme caution whenever you try to take this story and justify your own thoughts, anger, or actions. Jesus in his anger, did not sin. Jesus did not lose control. Jesus acted perfectly and righteously. We are not Jesus. We are not perfect. We are called to get angry at sin, at the hurt and suffering that is the consequence of sin, at the way it grieves God. But we are not called lose control, to rage or to sin in our anger.
And trying to walk a line, any line, trying to look in ourselves and be able to, not only control, but even to tell where that line is and when we are close to crossing it, is one of the most difficult things in the world.
But back to Jesus. Jesus was teaching the people as this was going on and he would continue to teach throughout this last week of his life. Jesus never quit trying to show people the truth, teaching them truth. And the temple would have been the normal and expected place for teaching to take place. We see that back when Jesus was left in Jerusalem as a kid, he was listening to the teaching in the temple. We see that when Paul would go to a new city, he would go straight to the synagogue to teach the people.
And we already know that the scribes and the pharisees were looking to get Jesus. But now we also see, “the principal men of the people,” wanted Jesus as well. They were prominent lay people. We know that they refused to hear. We know that they were for the opposite of what God was for. And they were searching for seeking for something to destroy him. But they could find nothing. And this was, as Luke tells us, in part because the people were hanging on Jesus’ every word.
Of course, we also know that it’s all about Jesus’ timing. It was close to time, but it was not yet time. Thursday night, after the last supper, as he was in the garden praying, then it would be time. And Judas would lead the Roman soldiers to Him and betray him and Jesus would allow himself to be arrested and tried and crucified. But not until the time was right.
You know, passages like this, if we don’t look at them like “Jesus did this, I’m supposed to do the exact same thing as him.” IF that’s not our application, it can be difficult to know what to take out of this.
One of the biggest things I see in this is where Jesus’ passions lie. Yes, Gods house is Holy, and we should not negate that or discount that. But to what end, and for what purpose? His house is to be a house of prayer for all nations. And anything that gets in the way of this, is getting in the way of the passions that Jesus has.
I love how Philip Ryken puts it as he writes:
The angry entrance that Jesus made to the temple shows where his passion lies, and therefore where our own passions ought to lie. Jesus has a passion for the lost, for reaching people who are outside the community of faith. He has a passion for the poor, for remembering to show mercy to people that society has forgotten. He has a passion for justice, for standing against persons and systems who perpetrate evil. He has a passion for prayer, for worshipping God with the sincerity of a true heart. He has a passion for making the life of faith the main business of life.
I love that. None of us have the heart naturally. None of us have that desire innately. And so, what can change our hearts? What can change our innate desires and our behaviors? Nothing but the pure, undefiled Word of God. Rightly divided, taught, understood and applied.
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. God works through his word. Jesus is the Word. The Holy Spirit works the Word through us. We are not able to change ourselves anymore than we can raise ourselves from the dead. Its all God, always God and only God.
Soli Deo Gloria.
To God alone be the Glory.