Sick of Religion? Week 8: Devotional Day 3
DAY 3 – Wednesday
Mark 11:17, Jeremiah 7:8-11, 1 Samuel 2:12-17
Jesus compares the people’s treatment of the temple to a den of robbers. This is a reference to Jeremiah 7:11. In both its original context, and here, the oppressive and violent behavior of the ruling priests defiles the temple. Those who are meant to be holy and without blemish, are instead full of sin. The issue was their sin compared to a holy God. Take a moment to reflect on your own attitudes and behavior in contrast with the perfect holiness of God. What sin do you need to confess to the Lord right now? How is God calling you instead to live a life “set apart” for his glory?
In the book of Samuel, Eli’s sons, the priests in the temple, are taking advantage of the people who are making offerings and sacrifices. Essentially, they are taking a greater portion of the offering than that to which they are entitled. As we see in Jeremiah, the corruption of the priesthood, and the defilement of the sacrifice are common threads throughout the history of Israel. By the time Jesus appears at the temple in Jerusalem, the corruption has spread from the priesthood to the leadership of the synagogues. No wonder Jesus was upset.
One other piece of information we receive from the parallel John passage is that the time of year is Passover, the time of year when the people remember their flight from Egypt. How do you think this relates to what is going on in the temple? The Passover itself was a foreshadowing of the sacrificial system that God would hand down to Moses in the wilderness. The animals that were for sale in the temple were the requirements of the law for the sacrifice. For people who traveled to Jerusalem from outlying towns, these animals were a convenience to be able to purchase on site, instead of traveling with them from long distances.
Was Jesus saying that it was unlawful to make these purchases for the Passover? Probably not, however they could have been better sold off site. The problem for Jesus was that the leaders were enforcing the sacrifices, while they themselves were practicing lawlessness. In overturning the tables, Jesus was exposing their greed and hypocrisy. Instead of living a holy life, and inviting others into that practice, the leaders were demanding the holiness of those they lead.
As we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of our own Passover Lamb, consider how Jesus calls us to holiness. Does he practice one thing and expect another from us? Does he lord his authority over us, and demand our obedience? What is one way you can walk in holiness this week, as a living sacrifice for Christ, who shed his blood for you?