Mornings in the Baer house are fairly predictable most days. The smell of fresh brewed coffee usually lures this sleep-worshiper downstairs to join my early rising husband. I typically find him reading or studying, at least one cup ahead of me.
This week he’s been preparing a lesson for his Men’s group on the second chapter of John which includes the story of Jesus’ reaction to the money changers in the temple.
As always, our current reading material generates a lot of discussion while the sun slowly creeps up over the mountain outside.
Brendon tends to enjoy and retain facts. I usually fan out to the personal application of the topic we’re haggling over. The balance is good. One without the other can lead to the same misguided thinking highlighted in the story of the money changers.
As you might recall, Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and was joined with throngs of other pilgrims converging on the temple. When he arrived he found commerce barricading communion.
The scene of greed within the walls of a place designed for worship caused a reaction that stunned many observers. The tables were overturned spilling their profits to the floor as the unassuming teacher took his rightful place in his Father’s house.
I can’t help but wonder how far we’ve deviated from the practices we were instructed to follow in worship.
I wonder if Jesus physically attended our gatherings if he would be pleased and comfortable with what he saw.
Up until Jesus arrived, people who attended the feast knew what to expect. They knew their money would be exchanged for another currency that included an unfair tax. They knew and accepted the fact they would probably be asked to purchase a “more acceptable” animal to sacrifice at an unreasonable price. But they did it anyway because they loved God and wanted to follow the expected ordinances.
Like helpless sheep they adhered to what was customary. Do we do that?
Henri Nouwen writes this: “Jesus, the Son of God, hungers and thirsts for uprightness. He abhors injustice. He resists those who try to gather wealth and influence by oppression and exploitation. With fervor he proclaims that the way to the Kingdom is not in offering many sacrifices but in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and the prisoners, Matt 25:31-46. He longs for a just world.”
As I sip my coffee, mulling over facts, I’m challenged to consider my personal practices. Am I able to overturn the money changer’s table in the sanctuary of my own heart? I wonder.
Do I overtax my soul, breeding resentment and thus offering shallow sacrifices?
Do I mindlessly adhere to practices I know are wrong simply because they are customary?
What furniture do I need to rearrange so Christ can take his rightful place in my temple?
I wonder about these things as sun rays seep through the trees outside on another ordinary morning.
(Many thanks to Cindee Snider Re for sharing her photo)