Using God and Abusing His People
Monday - April 11th
Devotionals for Passion Week 2022
Scripture to Read Today: Luke 19:45-48
"It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers.'"
Today we continue daily devotionals around the final days of the first coming of Jesus Christ to earth. Each devotional this week will include a text of Scripture to read (simply click on the link at the top of this page to read Luke 19:45-48 for today's devotional) and some thoughts I have written to help us in our walk with Christ based on the Scripture for the day.
After His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus spent Sunday night just outside Jerusalem in Bethany at the home of his friends Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Everything seemed to be going great for Jesus and His followers that night. After being dead four days and raised from the dead by Jesus, Lazarus was alive and well. The Jewish people had openly embraced Jesus as their Messiah earlier that very day.
Monday morning, Jesus got up and went to the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple that stood in Jesus' time is commonly referred to as the Second Temple or Herod's Temple. The first one, which had been built by David's son, King Solomon, had been desecrated and destroyed several times. To extend peace to the Jewish people, whom they oppressed, the Romans paid for and built the Second Temple.
King Herod initiated and oversaw the construction Himself. Most of the religious leaders connected to Herod's Temple embraced Roman engagement, and they saw the Temple as a means to line their own pockets or gain notoriety.
That Monday on which Jesus visited the Temple, Passover week was in its second day. Crowds of Jewish people filled Jerusalem for the most significant holy celebration of their annual calendar. During Passover, Jerusalem's population could swell to two or three times its regular size. Many of Jerusalem’s regular inhabitants saw these high holy days as an economic opportunity. That includes the religious leaders who oversaw and ran the Temple.
The religious leaders allowed all kinds of questionable businesses to set up around the Temple courts for the week. You could exchange various currencies there, but you would be charged greedy and excessive exchange rates. At the Temple, you could purchase a lamb for the Passover sacrifice on behalf of your family. But, even with that, you would be duped.
Historic indications are that officials sold a lamb to one person, and that person expected it to be sacrificed. But, in reality, the lamb would skip the sacrifice and be resold to someone else for the same purpose. The tables established for commerce cheated, abused, and swindled thousands of out-of-town guests visiting for Passover. Sadly, religious leaders ran this system that used God and, in so doing, abused His people.
Jesus angered the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the leaders among the people during His Monday morning visit to the Temple. He threw over the tables being used to defraud the masses - dismantling and disrupting the corrupt use of God and the abuse of His people. He declared in Luke 19:46: "It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers.'" After this event in the Temple, the religious leaders become more obsessed with killing Jesus. And, in days, they would have their chance.
As we live our lives and seek to walk with God, we need to examine our lives. Are we doing things that appear spiritual or even pious, but we do them in a selfish, greedy, or attention-grabbing way? The religious leaders in Jesus' day had gotten to the point that their religious activities were empty of anything about God. What they did, they now did to line their own pockets or to promote themselves to the public.
Do you go through the motions of Christianity without being personally moved, engaged, and transformed? Has your faith (and all that accompanies it) become a way to use God and abuse His people?
Hear the warning of Jesus to the religious leaders of the Temple that Monday morning! Don't use the things of God to your own selfish ends!
Those who leverage Christianity to line their pockets or gain attention use God and abuse His people!