Lenten Prayer Devotional #2

Matthew 21:12-17 – Jesus Clears the Temple

Just for a bit of context, the temple area in Jesus’ day was comprised of 4 different areas.  The first area was the temple itself and only the priests would enter into the temple, and the temple was surrounded by three courts.  The court closest to the temple was only available for Israelite men.  The second court was for both Israelite men and women. The third court was the Court of Gentiles, and it was the closest a non-Jew could get to the temple.

Passover was a time when people would travel to Jerusalem and offer sacrifices, but because of the great distances many would travel that would make bringing a sacrificial animal impractical, they would buy the animal at the temple in the Court of Gentiles.  Additionally, you could not use Roman currency in the Temple due, so the money would need to be exchanged for proper Temple currency, which would also be exchanged in the Court of Gentiles. 

The money changers would often drive up the prices of sacrificial animals, which would mostly effect the poor coming to worship. The conversion rate of Roman to Temple currency had an exorbitant exchange rate.   This was all done by permission of the religious leaders and it robbed the people who came to seek and worship God.  All of this was done in the Court of Gentiles, creating a the opposite of a quiet and worshipful space. So Jesus chases out the money changers and his very next action is showing compassion on those seeking him.

James 1:26-27 (The Message) says, “Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.”

Reflect. Where has worship been replaced by religion in my life?

Pray. Ask God to lead you closer to his heart for worship.

Commit. This week look for one action each day that you could do as an act of worship (i.e. serve a neighbor, take a prayer walk, bless someone through an act of generosity.)