Luke 19:45-20:8: “Shaking Up the Service- Temple Edition”
“And He entered the temple and began to cast out those who were selling, saying to them, ‘It is written, and My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a robber’s den.’ And He was teaching daily in the Temple, but the chief priests and the leading men were trying to destroy Him, and they could not find anything that they might do, for all the people were hanging upon His words.
“And it came about on one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him, and they spoke, saying to Him, ‘Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave you this authority?’
“And he answered them and said to them, ‘I shall also ask you a question, and you tell Me. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?’ And they reasoned among themselves saying, ‘If we say, ‘from heaven,’ then He will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ then the people will stone us to death, for they are all convinced that John was a prophet.’ And they said that they did not know where it came from. And Jesus said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things’” (Luke 19:45-20:8, NASB).
What I love reading and teaching about the life and work of the Lord Jesus is that He never was one to waste time or excuse bad behavior from anyone; and when He spoke, He got directly to the point and made people think about what they heard and witnessed. He had no time or energy to waste on people who only wanted to argue, rebuke, resist, and mock Him when He taught the truth of Scripture and the consequences of disobeying the Word of God. He did not consult religious “experts” or “fact checkers” like we are bombarded with on social media and those who feel it is their sacred duty to tear everything apart online in order to give their egos a stroke. He never discussed the interpretation of traditions and Scripture with the Pharisees, nor did He tremble in fear of what people might say or think about Him.
No doubt He would be the biggest critic of “political correctness” and its aftermath of raw censorship and fear were He here in the flesh today. He certainly would not support the lame and godless issues and concerns with which the modern church seems to be infatuated, such as social justice, critical race theory, the acceptance of behaviors and lifestyles that are in direct conflict with the Scriptures, and the odd desire of some congregations to be friends with the world for the sake of looking relevant or with the trends of the day.
I am also of the persuasion that He would rebuke and condemn the frankly ungodly and self-centeredness of some so-called churches that use everything but the soundness of the Gospel and the doctrines of the faith to train, educate, and mature those who profess to follow Him. Instead, they substitute fake signs, emotional cacophony, gibberish, falling on the floor, maniacal laughter that sounds more demonic than mortal, barking, rolling around, gyrations and moves that resemble a pagan ceremony more than it does worship of the Sovereign, Holy, Almighty Lord God Who, in the Scriptures, never at any time condones, approves, blesses, or affirms such nonsense and vulgarity disguised as a church service.
The Holy Spirit Himself is mocked and ridiculed by the antics of jesters and fools that occupy pulpits around the world who claim that the chaos and debauchery within the place is a sign of approval from Him. None of this garbage glorifies or honors the LORD in any way, shape, or form; and you know it to be as such.
I am not letting anyone off the hook because there are some of you who have been members of congregations that are so dry and lifeless that the only “Fire” that would come from you was if the building went up in flames. I have been subject to services that were about as exciting and fruitful as participating in a grass-growing contest in the middle of winter. I have heard preaching that is about as dynamic and uplifting as a bag of rocks. I literally ran from the first church I was invited to preach at after I started seminary because the atmosphere was slightly above a deep freeze at the Arctic Circle, and the people left a lot to be desired in terms of friendliness and hospitality; and I will leave it at that.
Surely this is NOT what our Lord Jesus had in mind or expected when it came to the call to worship the LORD in Spirit and in truth, and it is also an effective tool of the devil to blind people to what authentic Christianity teaches.
When Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem, it was not the sight or sound of people praying before the LORD, or of reverence towards His Holiness, or of genuine worship, but what was a mix of an irreverent carnival, marketplace, animal sounds and stench, shouting, chaos, coins being dropped in coffers, confused looks on people who did not know really what to do or were hopelessly lost about everything for which the Temple allegedly represented. All that was needed was a coffee bar and a sandwich shop near the entrance for those in between service snacks. If you are getting upset and angry over what I have just described, and have confirmed in your soul that this is in no way any kind of acceptable or worthy type of reverence before the LORD, then stop and consider what Jesus was seeing and thinking at that moment.
He was in a state of righteous anger and indignation over what was a clear and unmistakable act of evil, wickedness, and treachery done in the name of religious activity. However, Jesus did not go “ballistic” and lose control in His display of godly wrath and rebuttal of these blatant displays of greed and borderline blasphemy. Here is where His true Holy nature and act of judgment on the wickedness of people is best demonstrated and should cause us to shudder in holy fear for what their foolish and irreverent actions have produced.
With nothing more than His Divine nature and authority, He chased the money lenders, animal breeders, hucksters, and the means by which the High Priest and his cronies made their living, primarily through high-interest money exchange, high-priced sacrificial animals, and other schemes that had become a racket of corruption and internal rot within the Temple structure over the years. This did not go over well with the authorities or religious leaders, to say the least. If they were determined beforehand to get rid of Jesus, this action fanned the flames of their hate for Him and the satanic desire to destroy Him.
I am convinced that men such as Annas and Caiaphas, the High Priests at that time, knew perfectly well Who Jesus was and what He came to do, yet due to their greed, evil minds and hearts, and desire to keep power in their hands, chose to reject Him, His salvation, and be content with the pittance of the world they held in their grubby hands until it was too late.
It is no different than the hucksters in the media who are making a profit off of the story of Jesus as an excuse to fill their pockets while promising phony blessings and rewards to those who are gullible, naïve, and easily swayed by pretty words and colorful tales of miracles, moves of God, signs and wonders, promises of reward for “sowing a seed” or “giving a vow” of set amounts of money, or are hypnotized by the sound of “prosperity,” “total healing,” “no problems,” and show some antics disguised as worship, prayer, and preaching to make it look legitimate. These well-dressed and well-off shysters would probably curse and reject the Lord Jesus were He to take a whip to their “ministries” and remove everything they have as a punishment for their wicked use of the Holy and Sacred Name of God.
I do not like these characters one bit, but at the same time, I pray that their eyes will be open to what they are doing and will genuinely repent of their sins and truly turn to Jesus as Lord and Savior. I pray that they have not crossed the line, given over to a depraved and irredeemable mind.
The officials could do nothing to Jesus at that time due to His enormous popularity among the people. They also had to undergo a question by Jesus when He was asked about the source of His authority (as if they did not already know). He asked them a question concerning John the Baptist’s credentials as a man of God, and for them to give Him a direct answer would have gotten them into trouble with the people, and force them to admit that they had sinned in not listening to John’s message of repentance and preparation for the arrival of God’s Messiah. He put them in a deliberate bind and crisis of response, and they had to go on the defensive to save their worthless hides.
Do not be so smug and sure that anything you ask or declare will be sufficient or successful when it comes to challenging the Lord Jesus Christ. He has all power and authority to twist your ego in the wind and put you on the defensive to explain your motives and assumptions. Nothing surprises or gets by Him.
He has put more than one smart-aleck in his place over history, and He always will have the final word, despite what you may say or think. He can and will humble you if need be. He does not bow to any ruler, despot, dictator, pope, prelate, theologian, or officials or their concepts and ideas. He does offer all who come to Him in repentance real peace, eternal life, forgiveness of sins, and the promise of a new heaven and earth free from the rot we see and experience. To ignore and mock this gift of mercy and grace is to run a fool’s errand, and receive nothing in the end but misery, terror, torment, hatred, unforgiveness, and the eternal thought of what might have been if you had just closed your yap and given your life to Him.
Take care of this NOW. You have no guarantee of tomorrow. I would rather see the Lord Jesus embrace you than condemn you. If you are smart, you will agree. Now get on it and go serve your King.