#DailyDevotion Zeal For Your House Consumes Me
John 2:13–17 13The Jewish Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple He found men selling cattle, sheep, and pigeons, and the money changers were sitting there. 15So He made a whip of small ropes and with their sheep and cattle drove them all out of the temple. He scattered the coins of the money changers and upset their tables. 16“Take these away!” He told those who sold pigeons. “Don’t make My Father’s house a place for business.” 17His disciples had to think of what the Bible said: “The zeal for Your house will consume Me.”
Believe it or not, this passage is not whether the ladies guild can sell can or cannot sell bakes goods in the narthex. The place where this is taking place in the temple complex is where the Gentiles would have been allowed so they too could worship the LORD. This space in the temple was taken over by merchants (and mostly likely Levite merchants) who exchanged the pagan money for temple money so that Jews could pay the temple tax as was required by the Torah. The pagan money had the image of the emperor or some pagan god/dess. That was unacceptable for the temple tax. Many Jews came from all around the world to worship as was required three times a year. Part of that worship was the sacrifice of animals. They didn’t want to cart their animals all the way to Jerusalem from Babylon, Rome or even Briton. So they just bought the required animals when they arrived. These money changers and animal merchants, ignoring, perhaps even having disdain for the Gentile worshippers, set up shop in the place where they were to pray.
Now the Israelites were to be a light to the world. They were to be an evangelistic nation proclaiming the name of the LORD. In their first several hundred years of their existence they failed miserably and took on the faith of their world around them. Later, after the exile, many took on the lifestyle of the Greeks, though not worshipping false gods. In Jesus’ time, there were some evangelist to covert the Gentiles but many Gentiles came to believe in the God of Israel because of their contact with the Jews and they were impressed with the moral structure of the Torah and the worship of one God. It would have been these converted Gentiles who were there for worship, whose prayers would have been distracted by the marketplace installed there.
Jesus who is the LORD, who would as the LORD been receiving their prayers and worship, makes a whip and drives all these people out of the sanctuary, the spot for Gentile worship. Zeal for his house consumed him. His Father’s house was not meant to be a place of business but a place to receive the grace and mercy of God. So too today, the sanctuary, where we worship the LORD Jesus Christ, is to be a place where we receive the grace and mercy of God. It is where the LORD gives us his Word and instructs our heart. It is where our sins are absolved through the pastor. It is where we participate in the covenant of Jesus Christ our LORD and receive his body and blood for the forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of our faith. It is where we offer up our prayers, supplications, petition, thanksgiving and praise. Anything that distracts from that is out of place. Many things can happen in and around our sanctuary. Let zeal for presence of our LORD Jesus Christ in that place consume us.
Heavenly Father, may the zeal your Son Jesus Christ have for your temple also consume us, to gather us to the place you have chosen to give us your Word and Sacraments and receive them with joy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.