Have you ever been part of a big family spring clean, or orchestrated one?
In my parent's house, it’s not just in spring, but about 4 or 5 times a year, everyone is sent out with a list of jobs. Or my mum just stands up and say RIGHT! Enough is enough I’m going through this house and getting it straight again. At she turns into the Tasmanian devil, whizzing through the house fixing mild chaos and setting everything straight. It often comes with a changing round of the room too. And it's so worth it, she's right, it needs to be fixed. It’s a huge overhaul. Everything that’s cluttering up and blocking the way is removed and thrown out so that the house because clean, fresh and welcoming again.
Well that’s what’s going on today, a big spring clean. But it’s a really really big one. A bit more serious than my mum’s spring clean.
In this Matthew 2 v 12-17 we see two things: Righteous Anger and Rightful Prayer
Righteous Anger - Jesus walks into the temple and is horrified by what he sees people are stopping God’s people from worshiping God in the temple. This place should have Dove sellers so that people can come and buy a Dove, make the sacrifice and set their relationship right with God again.
So what was the problem? Why did Jesus drive them out, weren’t they doing what they were supposed to?
We it turns out they were overcharging people for their animals, they were behaving more like a marketplace than a place of worship! They were turning it into a business, corrupt, ugly and stealing from people.
Instead of being a joyful place of prayer and worship to God, a space for people to rejoice in being made right with God, they were now in a market struggling to gather together enough coins for their sacrifices.
Jesus turns over their tables and drives them out. John’s gospel says he made a whip out of cords to drive out sheep and cattle, Jesus is really really angry. So angry in fact he calls these people thieves! Did you spot that in the passage? “You are making it a den of thieves.” He’s accusing them of stealing. And they are! They’re overcharging people for their sacrifices! So Jesus has had enough. He will not allow these people to be extorted anymore! He makes them leave and returns his father’s house to how it should be! No more preying on the poor who cannot afford to worship God. He’s putting worship back to how it was made to be. A place of joyful worship and rejoicing in God. Enjoying having a right relationship with God again.
He has made a way for right and proper prayer and worship.
Rightful Prayer – our second point, the temple was so people could pray and worship and now Jesus has restored a space for rightful prayer.
The contrast of what Jesus has done is quite dramatic. Before the temple was more like a market place than a place of worship, but now, everyone floods into the temple to be healed and praise God, children are shouting praises to God saying: Hosanna to the son of David.
It’s a glorious display of the way prayer should be, people are being drawn back into the temple to enjoy being back in their relationship with God, able to worship and praise God. And the children can see who Jesus is. The Son of David is God’s rescuer that has been promised by God and described all through the Old Testament. At last, these children are rejoicing because the rescuer is here!
Well the religious leaders and teachers of God’s word just can’t see it, they don’t get why these children are shouting Hosanna to the Son of David. It’s so sad because they can’t see who Jesus is. They’ve spent time studying the old testament but have missed the fulfillment. This is the big moment. The Son of David, the rescuer is here! But they’ve missed it.
So what does this mean for us? I mean, we don’t have a temple today, we don’t make sacrifices today so why is this here? Why does this matter to us? Why am I wasting your time talking about it?
Well. In 1 Corinthians 3v16 it reminds us we are a temple. It says: Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?
Anyone who trusts in Jesus is God’s temple because God’s Holy Spirit lives inside of them! Did you know that your body became a temple when you put your trust in Jesus?
We are God’s temple if we are Christians, we are the temple and the spirit of God dwells in us. So now, knowing we are the temple that Jesus is clearing, how should we treat the temple?
If I have a brand new handbag, shiny, leather, bright and fresh, I'm going to care for it, clean it and keep it sparkling! I'm not going to put a rotten, mashed up banana into it am I?
Or your new phone, it’s the most precious most precious most protected thing you have, you treat it like it’s the most important thing you have, it’s like that for us, we’ve been given a new chance, a fresh start, so we need to have a spring clean internally, throw out the bad habits and the things that block us from connecting with Christ and instead be filled with the word, prayer and live out worship.
Well, what does our temple look like? Is it filled with worship to Jesus, crying out and praising Jesus, filled with prayer like the temple and the children in it? Crying out Hosanna to the son of David?
Or is our temple full of other idols and priorities? You think you don’t? Let me ask you, what take up most of your time? What do you daydream about? What do you always have time or money for?
Your phone? Friends? Family? Fashion? Work? Home? That’s your idol…
How did Jesus treat the Temple? He made sure it was cleaned out from things that were impure. We should do the same. We need a spiritual spring clean!
How are we going to clear space for worshiping Jesus with our whole lives? It’s all very well talking about it, but how do we actually do it? How do get rid of those idols?
Well we’re told not use our bodies to sin. We need to help ourselves to live for Christ. Guard our eyes - what we choose to see; Do you fill your mind with facebook, twitter, Instagram, tv shows that aren’t helpful? Gossip? Unholy behaviour? What are we seeing day to day and how is that leading our behaviour?
Guard our ears – what we choose to listen to; our brains remember a lot through lyrics, many of you would struggle to recite Pslam 23 to me, but I’m sure you could tell me the words of the Lord’s my Shepherd at the drop of a hat. It’s great to use music to build what we know, but what music are we listening to? Music is fantastic, but remember the influence it can have on you, have you actually thought about the lyrics? What do people say to us? Is it things that are challenging us and building us up in Christ? Or is it gossip and rude things?
Control our feet – where we choose to go. Where are you being lead? What situations are you in? Are the people and places around you leading you in helpful directions?
I’ll give you a few things to challenge you to fill yourself up with good and Godly things. Perhaps start by setting aside 10 mins in the morning to read God’s word and pray before beginning the day? If 10 mins feels hard, start with 5. I’m sure when you get up you check your phone; why not get the bible app and read a bit each day? You version bible app can be set up to send you devotions.
Find ways to serve and encourage your church family. Remember it’s not about cutting out stuff and leaving a hole, it’s filling it with a deep and personal love of Jesus, being overwhelmed with his love show to you at the cross and giving every part of your life over to Jesus, when you make a space, give it over to encouraging your Christian family, prayer and whole life worship to Jesus.
What did Jesus say His temple should be? A house of prayer. What do you think Jesus wants YOUR TEMPLE to be? A house of prayer. PRAYER is simply talking to God. You can talk to God anytime, anywhere. There is no one who can keep you from talking to God. He WANTS you to talk to Him! Jesus wants your temple - your life - to be filled with Him!
So Jesus cleared the temple courts so that everyone could come and worship God, are you going to let Jesus clear your temple? Are you going to clear out your life and worship Jesus wholeheartedly?