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Den of Thieves -- Matthew 21:12-17

Back in biblical times, Jews were required to journey into Jerusalem several times a year to bring an animal sacrifice. It may not have always been feasible to travel long distances with the requisite animals to be sacrificed, so itís possible some would wait until they arrived in Jerusalem to purchase the sacrificial animal or dove.

As we know today, the principle of supply and demand can often drive up prices. During natural disasters such as hurricanes, when necessities such as water and gas are in short supply, price gouging can occur.  These items along with building materials needed to board up buildings prior to a hurricane and for rebuilding after the damage has been done become overpriced.

No doubt thatís most likely the scenario Jesus encountered at the temple after He triumphantly entered Jerusalem just days prior to His crucifixion.  Thousands of Jews would have been coming into the city to observe Passover, and many travelers would have been in need of purchasing a sacrificial animal.  Knowing these travelers wouldnít have too many options available for making their purchases, I imagine many of the merchants would have been asking exorbitant prices or tipping the scales in their favor.

No wonder Jesus reacted as he did. The temple was more than just a beautiful edifice. Up until His death, burial and resurrection, the temple was the holy place for the Jews to worship His Father. So, when Jesus walked in and saw the unethical selling and bartering going on and His fellow Jews being manipulated and cheated, not to mention it was all happening in a place deemed holy by the Jews and a place of prayer, Jesus pretty much lost it.  The biblical accounts of this scene reveal that He overturned tables, threw out the merchants and accused them of making the temple a ďden of thieves.Ē

Today, we are no longer required to sacrifice an animal to ceremoniously cover our sins because Jesus became our eternal sacrificial lamb on Calvary.  We need no man or priest to approach the Father on our behalf because Jesus became our intermediary.  We no longer gather in a building that is deemed sacred. The buildings we gather in are just wood or stone and mortar, and there is virtually nothing holy or special about them.

However, we are told in scripture that believers in Jesus Christ are now not only a temple, but we are to be ďlivingĒ sacrifices for the Lord. In essence, that means we are to use our God-given gifts and talents to His glory and honor, and we are to give ourselves in service to Christ with our whole souls, hearts, minds and strength.

This coming Sunday is a day known as ďEaster.Ē  Itís a special day for Christians to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. However, for many, itís primarily perceived as a day to dress up in new clothing, or itís one of only a couple of Sundays some folks even attend a church service during the year.

Though much has changed in how we approach God in our worship, unfortunately, the hearts of man have not. Even today, we can be as guilty as the money changers of 2,000 plus years ago if we donít have a purity of heart or a holiness of spirit when we gather on Sundays (or Sabbaths). We can be dishonest and deceitful in our actions and dissenters and gossipers in our conversations. 

Godís expectation is that we ALWAYS approach Him with a purity and holiness of heart, and that we hide nothing in our heart that is offensive to Him or to others. So that leads me to ask the question, what type of worshipper will you be this Easter?

Other References: Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48; John 2:13-17.

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