As I was reading over the scriptures that follow the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, I became focused on what Jesus did immediately after His entry.
Read Luke 19:45-48.
Jesus gets down to business! The first thing He does when He reaches Jerusalem is go directly to the temple and cleanse it. He not only removes the merchants, as Luke notes, but He overturns the tables and the benches where the merchants are doing business (Matthew 21:12). He is upset that the temple, HIS temple; is being defiled in such a way. After all, this is the place where people commune with God. It is where His Father dwells. It is His home away from Home. It is the place where he will spend His last week on Earth teaching those who come to hear Him.
Jerusalem was a hot spot of activity around the time of the Passover. I’ve read commentaries that estimate the number of Jews who would travel to Jerusalem for the Passover was in the millions. David Guzik reports that the priests and merchants conspired together to ensure sacrifices were “approved” sacrifices. In addition, there was a temple tax that all the young men were required to pay. The payment had to be in the form of “temple currency,” and the exchange rates were outrageous. Did I mention that the high priests took a portion of the exchange rate and the sales? So, when Jesus drove the merchants out, I’m sure neither they nor the high priests were pleased with His actions, but the temple had to be cleansed of all that was not holy so that Jesus could teach there.[i]
I was reminded of a previous study of the temple and the Passover. God gave specific instruction to Moses that for seven days prior to Passover, the Israelites were not to eat anything containing yeast. In fact, God forbade them to even be around yeast at all, and commanded them to remove all yeast from their homes. Modern day Jews still practice this tradition. They give their house a good cleansing before Passover and remove all the yeast. So, what’s the big deal with yeast? In Matthew 16:6, Jesus likens the false teachings and hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees to that of yeast. It only takes a little yeast to spread throughout bread. This is why the Jews remove all the yeast in their houses. They believe the yeast represents sin.
So, what does all this mean? Just as the temple had to be cleansed of all its unholiness so that people could hear from the Lord, sometimes we need a good cleansing before we can hear from God. Just as Jesus removed the evil from the temple, so also, because we are temples where the Holy Spirit dwells, we must cleanse ourselves by confessing and repenting of our sins. Think about your life and what distracts you from God. What keeps you from spending time in His presence? Is there anything in your life that creates so much noise that you cannot hear God’s voice? If so, maybe it’s time to do a little cleansing.
I recently had my house cleaned. It had accumulated years of dog hair and dust. No matter how often I tried, I was never able to thoroughly clean it. I became overwhelmed with all the dirt and dust. I was disgusted with it and with myself for not maintaining it better. The day I got my house cleaned I felt like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I breathed easier. I enjoyed my house again.
Maybe it’s time to let the Holy Spirit do a little house cleaning. We can’t do it ourselves because we get so overwhelmed with our own dirtiness. We might try to tidy up every now and then, but it’s never enough because we cannot do it ourselves. But when we ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse our lives, it makes us breathe easier and enjoy our life as His children. David Guzik writes, “We do love Jesus; and we want to praise Him; yet we must also allow His cleansing presence in our lives. If He wants to turn over some tables in our hearts, so be it.” [ii]