Malachi 3:2 “Who can endure the day of His coming? Who can stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.”
Yesterday, we find Jesus making His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem. He fulfills the prophecies of Zechariah 9:9 and Psalm 118 as He rides before a great crowd of worshippers on a colt. It was not uncommon for a king to use a donkey. The reputation of donkeys was far different in Palestine than they are in our culture today. A king would ride in on a donkey (or colt) whenever he was on a mission of peace. In times of war he would choose the stallion as his mount. So here we find Jesus entering Jerusalem during the Passover celebration as the promised King coming to bring peace not judgment [John 12:47].
Today we find some of Jesus’ most striking actions during His time on earth. In them we see a glimpse of the kind of peace Jesus is bringing about through His death and resurrection. As Jesus enters the Temple area He is met with a scene that provokes an angry and swift response. The outer area of the Temple was known as the Court of the Gentiles. This is the area of the Temple into which anyone may come regardless of their nationality or status. For anyone other than an Israelite to enter beyond this point would result in death. So any Gentile wishing to seek after and worship the true God of Israel would have to do so in this area. However, the area had been taken over by vendors and money exchangers. It would have been virtually impossible for anyone to worship and pray amidst such competitive and highly profitable business. Try having a church service at the New York Stock Exchange!
Jesus’ reaction to what He sees is not disconnected from yesterday’s events. Jesus comes as the promised King who would bring peace to His people and establish a kingdom of peace. His first act after this public display is to cleanse the Court of the Gentiles of everyone but the true worshippers of God. Several things are evident from Jesus’ actions.
First, Jesus came to bring peace and salvation to all people. By this I mean that His kingdom will include men and women from every tongue, tribe, people and land [Revelation 5:9]. There will be no separate courts for Gentiles, for women, for men and for priests as there was in the Jerusalem Temple. All are one in Christ Jesus [Galatians 3:28]. We “once were not people, but now [we] are the people of God; [we] had not received mercy, but now [we] have received mercy.” [1 Peter 2:10] Therefore, let us rejoice on this day that Christ came to save even us, those wild olive shoots that have been grafted in with God’s chosen people “to become partakers of the rich root of the olive tree” [Romans 11:17].
Second, we get a striking picture of what the Lord will do the next time He comes. As J.C. Ryle says, “He will purify His visible church as He purified the temple; He will cleanse it from everything that defiles and works iniquity, and drive out everyone who claims to be a Christian but is still of the world; he will allow no worshipper of money or lover of gain to have a place in that glorious temple which He will finally exhibit before the world. May we all strive to live in the daily anticipation of that coming!” Therefore, let us examine the corporate temple which is the church [I Corinthians 3:16-17] to see if we our fellowship is exalting the risen Christ, proclaiming the Gospel, loving the unlovable, and being washed and purified with the Word in anticipation of the coming of our King and His kingdom with power and glory. Let us also examine our personal temples which are our own bodies [1 Corinthians 6:19-20] to see if we are bringing every thought, every desire, every word and deed under the subjection of Christ so that we may be found ready for the bridegroom and not caught unprepared to join Him.
May the Lord preserve and purify us today!