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Matthew 21:12-22 Making Room to Meet Jesus

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Read Matthew 21:12-17

Jesus began His ministry at a Passover just as He now ended it at a Passover.
Just as at the present time, “He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers seated.”
The temple was a maze to navigate
The outer court, known as the Gentile court, was the place the Chief priest set up to exchange money and purchase temple approved animals for sacrifice
It was a total racket which the high priest set up
Vendors bought booths and sold approved animals which the priests got a cut of the sales
It drove the prices up
Doves which cost 6p outside the walls would sell for 45p inside
You could only sacrifice temple approved animals from temple approved vendors
This was the only place that gentiles and the sick could pray
It was impossible to do so with all of that racket
Jesus set about to change that
He wanted to show the people that God was making it easier to communicate with Him, thru His Son

I. Clearing the Way vs. 12-13

The first thing Jesus did to Make room was to clear the way
He drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple
The outer court called the gentile court had become a marketplace
It was supposed to be a place of prayer for the Gentile, but also those who weren’t considered clean like the blind and lame
The High Priest Annas had created a Bazaar
Israel had a worship problem
As long as things were wrong with Israel’s worship, things could not be right in the nation. Worship is always the focal point.
Why clear the temple again?
He was compelled to make that clear testimony to God’s holiness and to God’s judgment against desecration and false religion.
In the OT He sent His prophets again and again to declare His truth, His holiness, and His judgment.
The Lord never stops declaring His will to His people, no matter how often or how wickedly they reject it.
Jesus drove out everyone who bought and sold
You could only sacrifice with temple approved animals
He overturned the money changing tables
Your money had to be clean
The temple was to be called a house of prayer
As He often did, Jesus vindicated what He was doing by appealing to the Old Testament, here quoting from
Isaiah 56:7 (ESV)
these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
The Gentiles and the sick couldn’t pray because of all of the racket going on in the court
The church can be guilty of putting things in the way of meeting Jesus
We need to make it easier to experience the presence of the Lord
Meeting Jesus
5 ways to meet Jesus at church
Thru Fellowship
When you show love to one another
Thru Praise
Jesus inhabits the praises of His people
Thru Preaching
The Spirit convicts and encourages
Thru Prayer
If you are sick you need to come to the altar and let the Elders pray for you
Thru Serving

II. The Needy Flocked to Jesus vs. 14-17

vs. 14 Blind & Lame
The bold action of Jesus when He drove out the merchants and money changers from the temple courts did not discourage the needy from coming to Him.
The blind and the lame were restricted to the court of the Gentiles; they could not go closer to the temple and could not go to the altar to sacrifice.
After purging the court of the Gentiles of merchants and robbers, Jesus then ministered to the outcasts who congregated there.
vs. 15-16 Children cried out
The priests would often pay the children to declare their entrance to the temple
They would run before the priests to announce their arrival
Notice that the children are crying out “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
Hosanna means save us
The children were looking to Jesus to save them
They are doing this on their own accord
This annoyed the priests, but it also fulfilled prophecy
Psalm 8:2 (ESV)
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.
Jesus turns over tables, the sick flock to him, the children cry out
What is the response of the leaders?
vs. 17 Scribes Indignant
They were indignant:
This was their response to the wonderful things that He did, and to the praise of children for Jesus in the temple courts.
The hypocrisy of the religious leaders is evident. Greed and theft in the temple didn’t bother them, but praise to Jesus did
Tenants Burning Down
An apartment of an orthodox jew caught on fire on the sabbath
They ran to the rabbi to ask if they should call the fire department
Making a phone call would be considered work because the electrical current used
It took the rabbi 30 minutes to decide it was okay to call the fire department and in the process two other apartments burned down

III. Ask & Believe vs. 18-22

The final part of making room to meet Jesus is to ask and believe
Jesus encounters a fruitless fig tree
He curses the tree and it withers
The disciples are amazed
Matthew condenses this story
Mark gives us the full version
Jesus comes across the tree on the way into Jerusalem before cleansing the temple and curses it
On the way out they see that it is withered
Jesus uses the situation to talk about faith
If you have faith and do not doubt you will do the same thing
James 1:6 (ESV)
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
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