Devotional Thoughts for the Day
And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city.
The story of Jesus cleansing the temple has always been one of my favorite stories in the Gospels. It’s a picture of Jesus unlike any other. Oftentimes, we imagine Jesus to be someone who is always peaceful and calm, and yet, here, in Mark we see a display of Jesus’ anger—not only communicated through words, but by the overturning of tables and physically driving people out of the temple! I remember being shocked when I first read about the temple cleansing. Was Jesus even allowed to react this way? Why is this story in the Gospel accounts?
However, when we study the text closely, we see that it was an appropriate reaction. The question that must be posed is, “What made Jesus so angry?” Many of us point to the fact that there was a marketplace set up in the temple courts. Since it is the house of God, commercial activity would be inappropriate. Others suggest that a marketplace was necessary, because people had to buy animals to offer their sacrifices; but what angered Jesus was the unjust manner in which business was done by the temple officials. I would suggest that these conclusions are only half-correct.
When we read Jesus’ response in verse 17, we are offered a clue to the reason for His anger. He says, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?” Here Jesus is quoting Isaiah 56:7, which prophetically spoke of a day when people from all nations would be gathered in the temple of God as His people. In other words, salvation would be offered even to those outside of the nation of Israel. You see, the original vocation of the Jews was not to enjoy the blessings of God by themselves but to be a conduit of those blessings to the world around them—that people might proclaim Yahweh as God. This was the purpose of the Abrahamic covenant.
However, instead of living into that vocation, they were setting up a noisy marketplace in the only area of the temple where Gentiles were allowed to worship. Instead of cultivating an atmosphere conducive for people from all nations to encounter the living God, they were using it as a place of commerce. In other words, instead of a house of prayer for all nations, they turned it into a den of robbers.
Simply put, Jesus was angered by Israel’s failure to live out their calling to be the light to the nations. His anger was fueled by His passion for missions; it was something taken extremely seriously by Jesus. And the question we have to ask ourselves is, “Do we have the same passion for God’s mission? Have we also forgotten our vocation to be the light to the nations as the church?” Just like Israel, many of us have often neglected this calling. It only becomes a focal point of our lives during the summer when we venture out with our short-term mission teams. However, we must remember that we have been saved by God to be a light to those around us. Let us remember this calling and not neglect it like Israel! Let us pray and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who do not know Him all the days of our lives!
Prayer: Father, forgive me for neglecting the calling You have given me as a missionary. Help me to live out this vocation faithfully and to have a heart for those who are far away from You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Thessalonians 2
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Peter 2:9-10: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Questions to Consider
- What is the reason that God has called and saved His people?
- Have you lived out your identity as someone that is part of the royal priesthood and holy nation?
- He called and saved His people to proclaim the excellencies of Him. Our salvation is not only for our own benefit, but He has given us a vocation to proclaim and share the gospel message to the world around us—to tell the story of God calling people out of darkness into His marvelous light.
- Personal response.
Consider this statement made by Leslie Newbigin, a missionary from England who serviced in India for forty years:
“Mission begins with a kind of explosion of joy. The news that the rejected and crucified Jesus is alive is something that cannot possibly be suppressed. It must be told. Who could be silent about such a fact? The mission of the Church in the pages of the New Testament is like the fallout from a vast explosion, a radioactive fallout which is not lethal but life-giving.”