Good morning everyone and welcome to church! This morning, we are going to switch things up a bit! I figured since it was our wonderful daylight savings time day and we lost an hour of sleep, we would do something different. (Don’t worry, nothing crazy, but enough to hopefully make us remember our passage of scripture today)
That is why for this morning, we are going to start with the sermon. Yes, you heard that right, we are diving right into our passage for today. So let’s take a moment and pray together.
This morning, we are going to look at Matthew 21. In this passage, we see Jesus respond in a way that we typically don’t see him. Jesus enters into the temple, he sees all of the business happening, and he kicks everyone out who was exchanging money, buying or selling there. Let’s read the passage together.
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “ ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
Business as Usual
Business as Usual
We talked about John’s account of this quite some time ago, and during that time we looked primarily at how Jesus was angry with the misuse of the temple. The way the temple was being used was not how it should have been used and it was good for Jesus to call them out for it. But I think when we read this passage it is easy for us to assume that Jesus might have been surprised by this. I actually don’t believe that Jesus was surprised to see the people doing this. This had been going on for quite a while, it was kind of how the system worked. It was business as usual for this to be going on in the temple. The regular practice was to go to the temple, purchase an animal, then offer it as a sacrifice.
But here lies the problem. Just because everything was happening as it usually would have happened, doesn’t mean that it was right. Jesus went to the temple to overturn “business as usual.” The temple was not meant to be a place a business, it was meant to be a place for worship and praise to God. But so many people had become okay with what was happening simply because that is how those things had been done for years. They had become blind to this problem because it was “normal.”
Let me give you a random, maybe weird, illustration to explain what I mean. In our house, we have a bathroom downstairs. Now for the longest time the toilet has not worked great. It would run a lot and because the tank was always empty it wouldn’t flush correctly. Initially, I attempted to fix it. I went and got new parts, a new plunger/flange thing (I don’t know the term for it) and replaced almost all of the guts of the toilet to get it to work right.
I though I had it working right, but pretty soon it went back to doing the same thing. Running a lot and not flushing a lot. This is where the problem is though. At this point, I got used to it. It was “business as usual” for the toilet to not work right. People who come over and use it say something to me and my response is just, “yeah, it’s weird, it does that. Just wiggle the handle a certain way and it will work out.” Just because this is business as usual, does not mean the toilet is working correctly! I’ve just gotten used to it.
Getting into this mindset of business as usual can happen in all kinds of ways in our lives. It happens around our house like I mention, but it happens in a lot of other ways. It happens in our friendships, marriages, parenting, work, even church. We fall into unhealthy patterns, we get used to lying to our friends, we get used to neglecting our spouse, we get used to talking bad to or about a coworker, we get used to just walking through the doors of the church and not expecting God to meet us here.
Just because we get used to those things, does not mean they are good! Just because I am used to having to finangle with my toilet, doesn’t mean that it is working the way it should. We are sinful people and we often fall into habits and routines that cause us to sin. Just how the people in the temple wound up in that situation. It was convenient for people to purchase the animals right at the temple, it allowed certain people to make money, even to take advantage of people. Everyone just got so used to it that they didn’t see a problem. That is, except for Jesus.
Jesus walks into the temple and he is tired of the business as usual that is happening. Jesus knows that the temple should be a place of prayer and not a market. Even in his response, we might think it’s harsh, but it is for the good of the people. It is better for them to come to the temple to pray rather than do business. It isn’t just about honoring the temple, though that is definitely part of it, it’s also trying to awaken the people for what they really need, a personal relationship with God.
Cleansing our Temple
Cleansing our Temple
To often I believe we forget that we are God’s temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16 says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”
As believers of Jesus you receive the Holy Spirit and that spirit dwells within you. When we forget this, when we fail to recognize this, life can become business as usual in a way that hurts us. If we forget that we are God’s temple, we fall into this patterns of sin because we are simply used to them. Our priorities can be rearranged and we end up in the same boat that the people in the temple got into.
But the good news is that Jesus doesn’t just leave us to continue on in our sin. Even though our sin might be business as usual to us, it isn’t to Jesus. Over and over again throughout Jesus’ ministry, we see him interrupt, disrupt, and even overturn business as usual.
It was no longer business as usual for the Samaritan woman. She is no longer the woman who had five husbands and lives with a sixth man. She is a well of living water.
It was no longer business as usual for man who lay paralyzed on his mat thirty-eight years. He took up his mat and walked.
It was no longer business as usual for the 5000 empty and hungry people. They left that mountainside full and satisfied.
It was no longer business as usual for the woman caught in adultery. “Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus said.
It was no longer business as usual for the man blind from birth. “One thing I do know,” he said, “though I was blind, now I see.”
It was no longer business as usual for four-days-dead Lazarus. He came out of the tomb.
If those stories tell us anything they tell us that we are not intended to live a business as usual life. It’s too small for us. Lent is a season that invites us to look at the ways our life has become business as usual, to make changes, clean out, and prepare for a new life, a new day, the third day.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Sometimes we have to go before God and expect that he is going to say and desire from us uncomfortable things. He’s going to call out sin in your life, the places that are messy that you have gotten used to. He’s going to point out certain things that you believe are “normal” that really don’t honor him. While it might be uncomfortable, it is good.
I wonder what business as usual looks like in your life today? What tables need to be overturned? What animals need to be driven out? What does the temple of your life need today?
And what are you willing to do about that?