weekly word – 1/18/24

Temple Cleansing

In Mark 11, we find Jesus cleansing the temple. His method of cleansing the temple was throwing out those who were buying and selling, overturning the tables of those who were exchanging currency, and tossing the chairs of those who were selling doves. He also prevented anyone from carrying goods through the temple. He did this because they were conducting business and doing things that was not prescribed by the Lord and inappropriate for the temple. Jesus reminded them in verse 17, quoting Isaiah 56:7, "My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations." Then He goes on by rebuking them, "But you have made it into a den of thieves!" 

The temple was the dwelling place of God among His people. It was intended to be a place of honor and respect towards God as well as the place to offer sacrifices to Him. When God gave king Solomon instructions for building the temple, the stones for the temple structure had to be cut at the quarry and then brought to the temple location for assembly. It was important that the noise and work itself was done off-site. They needed to treat the temple mount with great respect and high esteem. This is why Jesus did what He did to the merchants at the temple. They were treating that place like a marketplace and in doing so, they were even cheating people with their sales. They had complete disregard for the holiness of the temple mount and were in contempt for their actions. 

When Jesus Christ was crucified, the veil that separated the priests from the Most Holy Place was torn from top to bottom. Today, God's dwelling place among His people is in the hearts of believers. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us, "Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God with your body."

What state or condition is our temple in? Does it need some cleansing? What would Jesus' reaction be if He did an assessment of our temple? 

This is not intended to criticize or judge anyone. It is just a reminder that we all need to take time to assess where we are with the temple that we have been given to be stewards of. I can't expect to have a perfect and flawless temple, but I do have a responsibility to honor God with it. Verse 20 says to glorify God with our body. This goes beyond giving Him glory with my worship and praise. It deals with all three aspects of my body. I need to glorify and honor Him with the physical part of my body as well as with the spiritual and mental part of my body. 

When it comes to my physical body, do I try to maintain it to the best of my ability? I don't need to present it as a chiseled body builder type of appearance, but do I try to keep it healthy? What food and liquids do I put into it? I don't have to only eat organic and healthy foods but do I keep things in the right proportion of healthy and not so healthy? Do I eat towards contentment and sustainment? Do I expose my body to physically dangerous environments or activities? Whenever I do woodworking, I often forget to wear a dust mask to keep from breathing in harmful dust and resin particles. Do I exercise to stay in decent shape? I recognize that there are physical conditions that hinder us or prevent us from doing things we'd like to do and I know we all would like to improve our physical bodies to some degree. It is not an overnight process, but we should all be taking steps to move in that direction.

When it comes to my spiritual and mental body, do I try to saturate it with God's Word and uplifting music? Do I allow it to harbor anger or pride? Do I try to keep it in close fellowship with other believers and not keep it in isolation? In a similar way to our physical bodies, what do I feed it with? Philippians 4:8 exhorts us, "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable--if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy--dwell on these things.

The activities that took place in the Temple at Jerusalem didn't just occur and happen overnight. This was something that was probably allowed or tolerated in little increments. Over time, these little increments grew to the point where the priests in the temple didn't think it was such a big deal. The same can happen to us with our temples. We can begin to tolerate little things that may not seem to be significant but over time, they will become overwhelming and worse than that, they can become unnoticed and overlooked. 

Ideally, we don't have to do major overhauls in our temple but simple cleaning from time to time. It does take some intentional work and effort on our part. Our bodies don't have a self-cleaning mode like our ovens do. God wants us to put effort into keeping our temples in order. And don't feel like you have to do it solo. Find a brother or sister to come alongside and work together. 

Love in Christ,

Pastor Bryan