Whenever company comes to my home, I want to make sure they have a comfortable visit. So the last ten minutes before they arrive is very busy as I rush around cleaning up any last minute surprises. (If I clean too early, my unpredictable puppy will mess up the area right as our guest arrives.) Last minute clean up is pretty normal. Most people feel responsibility for making guests comfortable in their homes.
This is the way Jesus felt about His Father’s House. He wanted all the visitors, both Jews and Gentiles, to feel comfortable. Since He saw the cheating of the money changers and sellers, He wanted to protect the visitors from being cheated. He couldn’t ignore their need.
The temple had four courts. The first and largest was the court of the Gentiles. At the entrance to the three remaining courts reserved for Jews only, signs were posted. They warned that any Gentile who trespassed would be killed. The moneychangers and merchants set up their booths in the court of the Gentiles. All the space, noise, stink and commotion crowded the Gentiles who came to pray and worship God. Jesus said His Father’s house should be a house of prayer. Interestingly, Jesus didn’t say it should be a house of preaching.
After Jesus drove out the moneychangers and animal sellers, a peaceful atmosphere returned. Then the blind and lame approached Jesus. He healed them. Then on cue from the Holy Spirit, children cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
Once Jesus removed all the distractions, healing and praise followed. They didn’t know it, but these blind and lame people were the last to be publicly healed during the public ministry of Jesus. How fitting that God anointed children to praise Him in response to these healings.
When I think of Jesus’ concern for maintaining the right atmosphere at the Temple, I wonder if I help or hinder creating an atmosphere of prayer and worship at church. Too often at church, my mind is full of my agenda; who I need to talk to, and what I need to do. My first priority should always be on meeting God and praising Him. How can you help create the right atmosphere at church?