Stop making My Father's house a place of business!
John 2 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; 2 and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “What business do you have with Me, woman? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He tells you, do it.” 6 Now there were six stone waterpots standing there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing two or three measures each. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” And they took it to him. 9 Now when the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the groom, 10 and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the guests are drunk, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and revealed His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
12 After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother, and His brothers and His disciples; and they stayed there a few days.
13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And within the temple grounds He found those who were selling oxen, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 And He made a whip of cords, and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; 16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away from here; stop making My Father’s house a place of business!” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written: “Zeal for Your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and yet You will raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking about the temple of His body. 22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.
23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name as they observed His signs which He was doing. 24 But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, because He knew all people, 25 and because He did not need anyone to testify about mankind, for He Himself knew what was in mankind.
In today’s text it says: The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And within the temple grounds He found those who were selling oxen, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a whip of cords, and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away from here; stop making My Father’s house a place of business!” His disciples remembered that it was written: “Zeal for Your house will consume me.” What about many churches today, would Jesus have the same rebuke? Would He say, stop making My Father’s house a place of business? Unfortunately, every church needs to have a budget and a business or spending plan. There are expenses incurred and bills to be paid for a church or ministry of any size. The problem arises when the focus is on the business of the church as much or more than the ministry; when decisions are based on budget rather than on mission. Do we water down the gospel so that it will not offend people? Do we preach a gospel of grace without repentance, so that many will join the church? Do we focus on increasing the attendance of our services rather than instructing the attendants in the truth of scripture? In Matthew 6:24 Jesus says: "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Whatever foundation we build on, is what will be required to maintain what we are building. If it is God that we are serving, then we should build on the foundation of Christ, the cross, repentance and redemption. We should build with worship, prayer, preaching and teaching; with discipleship and outreach to the community and the world. We should focus on serving God and let Him take care of the business.
Today’s text, this account of Jesus rebuking those who were conducting business in the temple happened early, at the very beginning of His ministry, before His first Passover with His disciples. In Matthew 21:12-13, when Jesus came again to celebrate His last Passover with His disciples, it says: Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ” Obviously, those who did business at the temple had not changed. They did not heed Jesus rebuke. They continued serving self and money, setting up what Jesus overturned and bringing back what He drove out. What about us? Will we be obedient to what Christ says? For ourselves individually, will we continue to do the things that Jesus has driven out? Will we set up the tables He has overturned? In Matthew 12:43-45 Jesus says: “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.” When Jesus cleanses and removes things from our lives, we need to fill the void that is left with more of Him. Galatians 5:16-25 says: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
- My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
- When darkness
veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
- His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
- When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.