RELIGION: What would Jesus cleanse from your church, your life?

Weekly Devotion

"And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: and when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said." John 2:13-22

All the males in Israel were required to appear before the LORD God at the temple in Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover. In addition to other sacrifices, an unblemished lamb was to be sacrificed and eaten, and temple taxes were to be paid. As a result, the outer courts of the temple became a place where merchants, for a profit, sold animals for sacrifice and exchanged money for the coins needed for the temple tax.

Jesus, when He saw it, made a whip of cords and drove them out of the temple, saying, "Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise."

When asked for a sign to prove His Messianic claims and his authority to do this, Jesus told the Jews, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Jesus wasn't referring to the temple building in Jerusalem but to His own body. The sign He gave to verify that He is the Messiah and has the authority to drive out those who abuse His Father's house was His own resurrection from the dead; for, as He said would happen, the Jews destroyed the temple of His body, but He raised it up again on the third day.

The Jews misunderstood His words, thinking of the new Jewish temple, which had been under construction already for 46 years and was not yet finished. But Jesus' disciples came to understand His words after He had risen from the dead.

What would Jesus do should He walk into our church buildings today? Would He be pleased with our activities and programs, or would He drive them out? Each church should be a "house of prayer," not a "den of thieves" (Matt. 21:13; cf. 21:12ff. where Jesus again cleansed the temple during the week of His crucifixion).

Would Jesus be pleased with those who use the churches to sell their goods or advance their careers? Would He say it is okay for groups to sell insurance and retirement plans in connection with the church? Would it be alright to hold all manner of sales and raffles to raise money? What about the many fundraisers and campaigns to support the work of the church? These are tough questions that churches must prayerfully consider and answer with the guidance of God's Word.

But what about the temples of our bodies? The Scriptures tell all who believe: "Ye are the temple of the living God" (2 Cor. 6:16); and, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are" (1 Cor. 3:16-17).

Jesus is zealous for God's house, as the Scriptures say, "For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up" (Psalm 69:9). Not only is Jesus concerned for the earthly temples built with our hands, but He is also concerned with the temples of our bodies which He has created and redeemed. What would He cast out and cleanse away in your body or in your life?

Are our bodies a "house of prayer" devoted to the LORD God and seeking His glory? Does "the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in [our] hearts to the Lord" (Col. 3:16)? Or, are our bodies and lives filled with our own selfishness and greed? Are we living for ourselves rather than for Christ Jesus, who both created us and then also redeemed us with His own precious blood? Do we use our bodies to fulfill our selfish and sinful desires or to bring praise and glory to God?

Is Jesus even welcome in the temples of our bodies, or do we question His authority to come into our lives and cast out what is offensive to Him? Indeed, many do challenge Jesus' authority to reveal and cleanse what offends Him!

We, by our sins, destroyed the temple of Jesus' body. He was crucified and suffered on the cross to pay the just penalty for our sins and the sins of the world. He was condemned by God and died in our stead, on account of our sins. But Jesus, God's Son and our Savior, did rise again from the dead in victory on the third day, as He said! He redeemed us and made full atonement for our sins and the sins of the whole world! His resurrection is proof! It is the sign of which Jesus spoke! Through faith in Him, we are forgiven and promised eternal life with Him in heaven!

Jesus has the authority to cast out what is evil from the lives of those who trust in Him. He has the right to cleanse us, and He is zealous for us and our holiness. He comes to us as believers and dwells in us by His Holy Spirit, and He desires that we be wholly devoted to the will and service of God our Father.

God grant that we do not challenge His authority to purify and cleanse us but welcome His coming and rejoice in the mercy and forgiveness He gives to us for the sake of His innocent sufferings, death, and victorious resurrection!

Jesus paid the full price for our sins, and He forgives and accepts us when we look to Him in faith. At the same time, He also works in us to cleanse us so that we might live our lives for Him. May He continue to cleanse our hearts and souls!

O dearest Jesus, come into my heart and cast out whate'er offends. Forgive me for the sake of Your precious blood shed for my sins, and cleanse my heart and soul that I might live for You. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible. Devotion is by Randy Moll. He may be contacted by email at [email protected]. More of Moll's devotional writings are freely available at Opinions expressed are those of the author.]