Sunday Reflections - Jesus clears the temple
In the run-up to Easter we’re going to take a bit of time on Sundays to look at some of the events in the week leading up to Good Friday. As we can’t meet together at this time we won’t do this through a typical sermon but through reflections on these themes. We know that God will still speak to us through his word and we hope that these notes will encourage you.
Today’s theme is Jesus in the temple. The tension is rising as there is growing conflict between Jesus and the religious authorities.
Scroll on down for some praise, prayers and reflections on God's word.
I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
The Israelites would sing this as they went to the temple in Jerusalem for their festivals. Because of Jesus we don’t have to go to a physical place to be in the presence of God. We may be missing going to church, but be encouraged that today you can rejoice as you go to the house of the Lord to be in God’s presence.
What song can you sing as you rejoice in being able to do this because of Jesus?
If you feel too shy to sing out loud use the words as a prayer or use one of these songs:
Today’s reading is from Mark 11:15-18
Jerusalem was crowded, the temple area was jam-packed with people - all here for the Passover festival, the most important date for the people of Israel.
Pilgrims came from all over the Roman empire to offer sacrifices in the temple. In order to make their sacrifices they would need to buy pigeons. In order to buy the pigeons they would need to change their currency because the money they brought with them would have the images of Roman emperors or Greek gods on and these were not allowed to be used. And just like with any big event, the closer you get to the venue the more the sellers take advantage and the higher the prices.
It’s fair to assume that as Jesus said they had turned the place into a “den of robbers” he was angry at the greed of the temple authorities and the sellers. He hated the exploitation of people who had come to worship. Our present circumstances have perhaps helped us to appreciate those whom our society has exploited through poor wages and working conditions.
But there was another reason Jesus was angry. He quotes from Isaiah 56 that the temple was to be, “a house of prayer for the nations.” The part of the temple that was filled with money exchangers and pigeon sellers was the court of the Gentiles - the very place that was meant for foreigners from all nations to seek God was now filled with greedy money-grabbers. The religious leaders were entrusted to look after the temple and make it the kind of place God wanted it to to be. Instead they were stopping people from worshipping God and thwarting God’s plan to include the foreigners and outcasts. JGod's plan has always been what John had a vision of, "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne" (Revelation 7:9).
Even in our circumstances it's easy for us to become greedy and simply look after number one. What can we do to make sure that we are not just being greedy for ourselves but helping to bring people close to God? What are we doing to reach out to others? How can we help people who may feel like outcasts feel like they belong close to God?
If you have been exploited by someone else then know that Jesus is on your side. If you are poor and struggling then know that Jesus sees and is concerned that justice will be done. If you feel like a misfit, or alone and cut off then know that Jesus is close to you and will never leave you nor forsake you.
Pray for our church, that is scattered across Waltham Forest, to be a church of prayer and that people will feel close to God.
Pray for those who are suffering because of the coronavirus crisis.
Pray for places where you know injustice happens in our area and around the world. Pray especially for those who feel like outcasts