Daily Update #170

Today’s Readings: Revelation 20: 1 – 4;  Psalm 84: 1 – 6

Luke 21: 29 – 33 : When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling.  “It is written,” he said to them, “My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers.”  Every day he was teaching at the temple.  But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him.  Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.

This is a well-known event in the life and ministry of Jesus, although it actually appears to have occurred twice, both around the time of the Passover celebrations.  John tell us that that the first occasion was quite early on in the ministry of Jesus, whereas the other three Gospel writers record a second happening much later, during the time leading up to the arrest of Jesus.  As I was thinking about this, and about today’s Reflection, two points came up which I thought were well worth exploring this morning.

Firstly, when this happened it must have caused quite a furore, so why wasn’t Jesus immediately arrested?  We know both from our reading and from other mentions in the Gospels that the priests, teachers and leaders were bitterly opposed to Jesus, so much so that they wanted to see Him dead.  There were guards in and around the temple, yet when Jesus began to drive out those involved in the selling of doves for the sacrifice, and those whose livelihood came from exchanging currency, no action was taken.  The clue to this lack of action can perhaps be found in the final sentence of the Gospel portion above, where we read that all the people were absolutely engrossed by the teaching of Jesus.  To have tried to arrest Him at this time would probably have caused an even greater furore, maybe even a riot.  Better to wait awhile, and as we know they did not have to wait long before the arrest was made.

Secondly, given that it was necessary for worshippers to present something for the sacrifice, and doves could be purchased for this, and also that different currencies would need to be exchanged in order for those purchases to be made, why was Jesus so indignant?  One reason may be found in His words, “My house will be called a house of prayer (for all nations) (Isaiah 56: 7).”  We know from the Gospels that Jesus came with a message for all, not just for the Jews.  He came to share the good news of the coming of the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom which is open to all who put their trust in Jesus as Lord and Saviour.  As we see elsewhere in the New Testament, Jerusalem was a very cosmopolitan city, with visitors coming from far and near, and many of them would have wanted to visit the temple to pray.  Non-Jews would only have been allowed in the outer courts, but given all the hubbub of trading and exchanging it would probably have been difficult to find a peaceful place to pray.

So, what can we take from these thoughts today?  Firstly, we may not be able to hear Jesus teaching as He did in the temple courts, but we do have His teaching in the Gospels, and if we are faithful in our reading of God’s word He will, by His Holy Spirit, teach us and lead us on in our walk with our Lord.  Secondly, as Martin reminded us on Monday, we don’t have to be in a temple or a church to pray to our loving Heavenly Father.  Having said that, it is helpful to sometimes draw aside in order to be alone with God.  I know from my time as Cathedral Day Chaplain how many people value the peace and quiet of somewhere where they can spend time alone with the Lord. This is why, even in lockdown, St. John’s is open daily for personal times of prayer and worship, as is Chichester Cathedral.  The important thing is that we do spend time with the Lord, who is always ready to hear us wherever we are. 

Almighty God, we thank You for Your Word, the Bible, in which You have revealed Your Beloved Son Jesus as the promised Messiah and the Redeemer of all mankind.  Thank You also that You are always ready to hear us when we come to You in prayer.  Lead us on, by Your Holy Spirit, as we seek to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen