Imagine a market place at the time of Christ. The sounds of animals intermingled with the shouts of vendors selling their wares and the clink and rattle of money as it exchanges hands. An intoxicating combination of sounds, sights and smells attacking all of your senses.
Well that’s all fine in a market place, but these were some of the things that confronted Jesus as he entered the temple. And he was NOT impressed.
The Purpose of the Temple
The temple was the focal point of the Jewish religion. It was the place built originally by Solomon as the place to house the Ark of the Covenant and the place where the priests ruled the people in accordance with the law of Moses.
The temple was the place where the people would come to worship God. It was the focal point of the various feasts and ceremonies that formed the processes of worship under the Old Covenant. The temple comprised the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies where the priests went once each year to offer the sacrifices for the sins of the people.
To put it succinctly it was a place that was to be revered and held in high honor among the people. It was never supposed to be a market place.
When Jesus came into the temple he found people selling pigeons, various products and money changers at work in the temple. These people had turned the temple into a place of commerce and trade. They had turned the temple into a market place and Jesus was highly indignant.
Jesus was angry at what he had found in the temple. These people were not respecting what the temple stood for. They were treating it as a market place and not the place where they should come to learn the ways of God.
So he set about making it right. In his indignation Jesus drove out the animals, pigeons and those who were using the temple as a place of commerce. He overturned the tables of the money changers and drove out all of these people who were disrespecting this place of worship in such a callous manner.
He did this in fulfillment of the prophecy which said, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (verse 17) he said to them, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”
Lessons for Today’s Church
Is this any different to many of the things we see in some churches today? How many churches have slick marketing in place to sell books, CD’s, DVD’s and other marketing materials for the purpose of profit? Every so often some new thing comes along and cunning church marketers seize the opportunity to make money.
How many of these churches are selling fish stickers for your car, WWJD bracelets, T-shirts with catchy church phrases or a mug with the prayer of Jabez printed on the side? And then there are the tele-evangelists who spend more time promoting their latest book for sale than using the opportunity to promote the word of God. They are more like infomercials. All who do such things have missed the point and missed the mark of what Christianity and church life is truly all about.
Church is not about making a financial profit. Christianity is not meant to be a marketers playground. We do not go to church for the purpose of trade, commerce or to go shopping. Church is the place we go to have fellowship with our brothers and sisters in the Lord, where we learn the ways of God and we come to praise and worship Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
Don’t get me wrong here. Those who labour in the Lord are entitled to make their living from it. But that is through the preaching of the word, not slick marketing of some supposedly Christian paraphernalia. When the focus of a ministry is about marketing and profit, then you can be sure that it is no longer a true Christian place of worship. As Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)
So if these churches and ministries are serving money and worshipping at the altar of marketing and mammon, they are no longer serving God and Jesus Christ. And if Jesus were to walk into such places today, I would expect that he would take a similarly dim view as he did in the temple, and drive out the money changers and marketers of the modern church so that the church once again becomes a place of praise and worship.
(Picture sourced from stock.xchng at www.sxc.hu taken by Ivan Prole)
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