still here waiting.
When Jesus came to Jerusalem for the final Passover before His death, He found the outer court of the temple, the place for the gentiles, filled with commerce and business; foreigners changing currency for Jewish money, animals being sold for sacrifice. The scene was probably not uncommon to other Passover’s, but the King has returned to Jerusalem: the Lord of the Sabbath and of the house, and He began to drive them out. He didn’t allow anything else to be brought in for that purpose. He declared: ‘It is not written, My house is to be called a house of prayer for all nations? yet you make it a den of robbers” (Mark 11:17).
Jesus didn’t merely empty the court of the money changers: “…and He drove them out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen, and poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables” (John 2:15), but He drove away the animals that were intended to be sold for sacrifice. Much like when Saul saved the sheep for sacrifice against the wishes of God and Samuel rebukes him saying: “…to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). The temple appeared very religious, but their means were dishonest and their worship was perverted.
As a child, one night I walked into the living room when my parents were watching a rendition of the gospels on TV and the scene was Jesus yelling, and pushing people away, and throwing tables over – I was shocked… or better, mortified, and a little mad. They had Jesus all wrong! but time has taught me – I had Jesus all wrong.
Worship is not the songs we sing, and it’s not how quiet or loud we are – it is spirit and truth. Not only did this commerce block the way of the temple, but it distorted the purpose for the feast – granted I am no Old Testament scholar, but the lamb was to be taken from the father’s household and killed – shared if needed for a smaller family that did not have one. It was a lamb that was raised by the family, killed by the family, and eaten by the family: a sign of atonement against the death of the first born. This scene of the temple are those coming to buy a lamb the day of to sacrifice it there – I can imagine it was much how people feel about Christmas or Thanksgiving becoming so commercialized. The feat was not about the performance, but about the purpose. It had become noise.
As I re-evaluate my spiritual life: my prayer, my worship, my heart, I can’t help but feel that I have missed the point so many times – I hear people say “I am waiting” for a relationship, for a career, for an opportunity – the Old Testament is filled with statements to wait, but New Testament is full of a call to action: performance and purpose. I’ve been caught in this loop too – the idea that things aren’t how I want them to be and some things are beyond my control. I cannot control some choices of others; I cannot choose for them. It’s the bitter edge of acceptance; somethings are just this way. It’s easy for me to miss the purpose of events in my life because I’m trying to understand their performance, or how they fit. My worship, my prayers, and my heart become noise.
When a child and an adult walk together, who sets the pace? I have spent so much time waiting on God that I start to wonder how much time He has spent waiting on me… Perhaps my fear should not be that I will walk without His blessing, but that I will not walk in what I already have. That in the end I will find Him waiting on me to accept His view, His way, and His design. I cannot enter into His rest if I cannot take up this cross. Or maybe this is something entirely different in my heart.
I think it’s important to remember that Jesus didn’t merely drive away the money changers and falsehood from the temple – He reclaimed it; He opened it. The outer court was the place for the gentile nations to worship. He didn’t make a bold stand of condemnation, but made an even stronger declaration of acceptance – He is still here waiting.