Sheep and goats bleating, pigeons gurgling, clinks of coins, voices raised in heated argument. Men crouched over desks meticulously recording transactions. Dizzying crowds and activity, dodging people and helpful ‘I can get you an unblemished lamb’ elbow grabbers, benumbed and bewildered, the moment of worship stripped of all its awe and wonder, worshippers going in and out to get ‘it’ over and done with as soon as possible.
Then Jesus, the Son of God, steps into the Temple. He sees with the eyes of His Father. He sees the profit margins, the dodgy deals, poor people being squeezed of more than they can afford. He sees the prideful, boastful, smug self-satisfied hearts of the self-righteous, coming in to give offerings and make sacrifices as a pat on their own backs, a check-box ticked, their halo polished and set just so. He sees the empty, vacuous hearts of those coming to fulfil a requirement. For them, worship was just a superstition, a crossing of fingers, a bribe held out to make sure that their tiny worlds would stay the right way up.
Where are the worshippers? The ones seeking to know the Lord? Where are the worshippers? The ones in love with the Lord.
Is it all about giving and taking? About bribing and boot-licking, to make one’s voice and petition heard? Is that how you see My Father? As a petty bribe-taking bureaucrat, needing his palm greased before he lifts a finger in your behalf?
Is this is all that it has come to? Keeping accounts, haggling for better bargains, a hastily said prayer, with nary a thought for the Maker except for the benefits He brings to mankind? Oh where, Oh where are the Lovers, who seek to dwell in the courts of the Lord? Have they been driven out by this mad, noisy throng?
Let Me make a way for the Seekers, the true Lovers and Worshippers of God, out of my way all you merchants, all you millstones and stumbling blocks! My Father’s house will be a house of prayer!
Prayer! Communion with the Lord. Bowing in worship before Him. Hearing Him speak in your heart. A place where all that is worldly is stilled and silenced before the Holy Living God.
Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourselves but to God; 1Co 6:19 GNB
What does the Saviour see when He looks into my heart?
Grudge books, outstanding debts waiting to be collected? Records of favours given, and favours yet to be collected? Profit and loss statements of conditional love given and received?
Is my heart a merchant’s warehouse, full of the noise of the world? Am I replete and smug in the knowledge of my own goodness? Shallow, with a bargaining eye on the favours that are held in the Maker’s hands?
Who is it I am serving? Whose kingdom am I working to build?
The Lord, the true Owner of my Life and Heart comes to claim His place, but He comes in peace on a donkey to cast out the world system built on conditional love that held sway for so long in my heart.
Grudge books, registers, records of rights and wrongs, all flushed out by the Living Waters of His Word. The Prince of Peace enters, a new economy He sets into place. Freely you have received, now freely give, unconditional love must now hold sway.
With all the clutter and deadweight gone, my heart is stilled to hear, the voice of the One who spoke the world into existence. My eyes can now clearly see the splendour and majesty of the One who loves me and gave His life for me. In sweet communion, kneeling at the feet of the Lord, I am set free to worship, to declare with every breath, ‘Lord, you alone are worthy, to be honoured, heard and obeyed’
And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35
“If you love me, you will obey my commandments… My Father will love those who love me; I too will love them and reveal myself to them … and my Father and I will come to them and live with them. John 14:15,21,23