It was the week of Passover. Pilgrims from all over the Roman Empire had come to Jerusalem to observe this most holy of Jewish festivals and remember the deliverance of their people from their bondage in Egypt which God has powerfully accomplished. It was to be a time of sacrifice and worship, a time of prayer and reverence. Yet, when Jesus came into the Temple on that Monday of what we now call Holy Week, He didn’t find sacrifice, worship, prayer and reverence. He found distractions. He found money changers and trade booths set up in the very court of the Temple where the priests were to be making the sacrifices to the glory of God. Chances are the sacrifices were being performed and prayers were being offered. Sadly, these activities had become secondary rituals that were blindly observed while the attention of the people were focused on all of the distractions. In response to this, Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers and drove out the traders.
We are familiar with those details of this event up to this point. However, the real significance of this event is not in Jesus’ righteous indignation. It is in what He did afterwards. In Matthew’s account of this event (Matthew 21:12-17), he reports that Jesus welcomed the blind and the lame and He healed them and, in so doing, restored the Temple to be used as it ought – as a place of healing and restoration. The Temple is where the people were to come to find grace, mercy, and forgiveness, to find healing and restoration from God. Through Jesus, God-with-us, the people received exactly that and praised God.
As we prepare for Holy Week, think about the distractions in our lives. This is a time of sacrifice, worship, prayer and reverence. Yet, will our meditations be blind observations as we go through the rituals of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and even Easter Sunday? Will these activities become secondary to the special meal that is being planned for all the family that will be at the house on Sunday… to the coloring of the eggs… to the decorations… to our busy week of work, household chores, keeping up with the basketball tournaments, soccer practices and games, etc.?
The healing which Jesus performed in the Temple that day reminds each of us of the healing and restoration which He offers from the cross. It reminds us of our deliverance from sin and death through His death on the cross. It reminds us of the new life that we have through His victory over the grave in His resurrection. Yes, we still have to work. Yes, laundry still needs to be done. Yes, shopping for that special meal needs to happen. And, yes, you can still track your favorite basketball team through March Madness. But, remember – those are the things that are secondary. What is important for this week is the grace and mercy which are freely offered to us through Jesus’ death and resurrection and for which we give God all praise and glory.
Heavenly Father, free my mind of all distractions during this time that I may meditate upon the passion of Your Son and receive from You the rest and peace which He offers through His death and resurrection. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Along Life's Way
Learning to live life as it’s meant to be. That’s what we strive to do here at Grace, to live under the cross in the new life that we have in Christ through His death and resurrection. The posts on this blog, grounded in God’s Word, will be offered as a source of encouragement, comfort and strength “along life’s way” to the end that we live lives of service in our homes, in our communities and in our congregations.
The author of this blog is the pastor of Grace, Andrew Green. He is a 2000 graduate of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and has served Grace since January 2002. He is married to Erica and has two children, Clara and John-August.