Now remember, this is the second time Jesus is doing this. He has come back after 3 and a half years of ministry and found the Temple, which was supposed to focus His people on His grace, in the same, if not worse, condition He found it in at the beginning of His ministry! Jesus, who had just been hailed King with palm branches, begins to assume a divine-like, Kingly authority and begins to turn over tables and kick people out! What was it that got Jesus so mad? What was happening in the Temple court was practically destroying any chance of the people appreciating the great sacrifice He was about to accomplish for the world, by the shedding of His own blood. It was especially creating a major obstacle for the Gentile, non-Jewish worshippers of the nations to perceive and appreciate the great sacrifice of grace He was, that week, about to accomplish for them and Jesus started to clean house! They were blocking the very people who needed the Gospel and Jesus couldn’t take it anymore! And this is what happens when in our lives, in our homes or even in our worship service, when we loose focus on Jesus…
He Cleans Out Obstacles to Grace
It’s like my wife when clutter starts to collect on the kitchen counter, like mail, toys or random objects. Eventually she’ll see it and just start going crazy, throwing stuff away or putting them where they belong, because she’s saying to herself, “This is not what this space is for!” Well this is exactly what Jesus is doing here. He was making the statement that this is not what the outer court was designed for. Your missing the point of this space and even worse, creating obstacles for people needing His grace!
What Jesus did in the Temple was an astonishing act of protest against injustice! The issue wasn’t so much that they were selling the various animals and birds needed by the worshippers to offer sacrifices. This became a needed service, especially for those who traveled far, as well as those who needed to exchange secular monies for money that was acceptable in the Temple. The issue was, for the sake of greedy gain, they charged extremely high prices and oppressed the poor. This is why Jesus accuses the sellers and money changers of turning His house into a “den of thieves.” But the other very disturbing issue was where they chose to set up this marketplace environment. They placed it in the Court of the Gentiles, where the non-Jewish people of the nations came to worship. During the crowded festivals, this large space got significantly consumed with noisy crowds around merchants tables, creating a major obstacle for the very people God wanted to reach with the Gospel of His grace! This is why Mark’s Gospel account includes Jesus’ fuller quote of Isaiah 56:7, “…My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations…” Mark 11:17 NKJV.
So what are obstacles to grace that Jesus is ready to protest against in your life, your home or our worship? Because when we loose focus on Jesus and those He’s trying to reach with His grace, He starts turning over tables and shaking things up! Jesus will do what He has to do in order to get us to refocus on Him and His offer of grace for all.
Yet now a sudden shift happens in the story that should catch you completely by surprise beginning in verse 14…
Sermon starts at 2:08:49.