Good and Bad Worship
There are two purposes found in this episode of the cleansing of the temple. For us, it reveals the degradation of worship to “religion,” which is seen in the money changers and religious leaders. Jesus reveals the true purpose of worship must include prayer, transformative healing and a resultant praise of God.
A. Talk about aspects of formal worship (sanctuary, building, music, sermon, etc)
B. But there is another aspect of worship, the reason behind worship (function, motivation)
C. Matthew 21:12-17
A. The situation
- Jesus’ triumphal entry, last days of his life, he will be crucified shortly
- but before he proceeds, he makes a stop at the temple
- two episodes in this passage united by the temple setting
- the first is the cleansing of the temple
- the second is the healing of the sick
B. The significance of the temple
- it was central to Israel’s worship of God in the Bible
- was it to listen to a sermon, or sing?
- no, major aspects were two: sacrifices to restore one to God, and prayer which is seen in Solomon’s dedication when he oversaw the construction of the original temple.
C. The degradation of temple worship into a religion
The cleansing of the temple
- various courts: Israelite, women’s, priests and gentiles( all and here)
- money changers temple tax 20% conversion
- doves/childbirth-but dove for the poor if cannot afford a lamb (lev 12:8)
- but needed a perfect dove/ 400% price increase
- the sacrificial restorative process had taken second to enormous profit taking, even putting greater burden upon the poor.
The healing in the temple
- the religious leaders were indignant at the healings
- healing signifies the greater aspect of Jesus
- the ultimate restorer was present and he was despised
- so hardened to their tradition that when true physical restoration occurs that it spontaneous praise is criticized
- hardened to ritual and prone to profit
- so that true restoration, prayer, celebration of the powerful Christ is reduced
- church loses it purpose and becomes an institution, terrible
- reclaim the prayer, joyous celebration of restoration of each one of us who believe.