Matthew 21:12-17

Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.”

The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became angry and said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself’?”

He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there. Matthew 21:12-17

We had a church council meeting last night. It was the first meeting of the year with a brand new set of people elected to serve as leaders within our congregation. Since financial oversight is a key part of their responsibilities, we spent a few minutes talking about money in the three hours that we were together.

When you are a leader in a congregation it is a good thing to remember Jesus shaking things up in the temple courtyard. It is easy to get lost in the business side of things. We spent a few minutes talking about the concrete that has settled in the sidewalk and the trip hazard it represents. The status of the flat roof of the church building and the repairs needed there. We were relieved to hear that most of that work will be covered by warranty but it is work that has to be done to be good stewards of a facility where lots of good things happen.

But we covered all of that in a few minutes. We spent most of our time talking about and thinking through how we will work together in helping our congregation be the best community we can be for the sake of the people God loves. Those who are already here and those we hope to reach in this next year. We began our meeting by listening to the Bible, connecting that witness with the challenges and opportunities before us. We ended the meeting holding hands and praying the Lord’s Prayer. The council members all sacrificed an evening they could have spent at home with their families. They all came from long days at work to spend the evening doing “extra work” at church. This is what it takes to be the church.

Still, Jesus cleansing the temple needs to stay in the forefront of our minds. The money changers and the sacrifice sellers sitting at their tables saw everyone who entered the temple as a potential customer who could enrich them. The blind and the lame? To them they were only as valuable as the money they needed to change or the money they had to buy a couple of pigeons. But for Jesus? They were people with needs who Jesus wanted to help.

Keeping the main thing the main thing is vital. It is so easy to forget that. So easy to get lost in the details. To forget why we do what we do. And it is also so easy to get stuck in the rut of “we’ve always done it that way before.” That came up last night too.

The chief priests and scribes weren’t amazed at the healing that Jesus did or the voices of children who were singing “Hosanna to the Son of David.” They should have been. They should have welcomed the work that Jesus was doing among them. They should have welcomed Jesus’ presence among them. But he represented change. He didn’t fit in their box. He threatened their power and their positions. They got angry.

When it comes to church leadership, it is best to keep the main thing the main thing with open minds and open hearts attuned to whatever song God places in our hearts.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, the temple was a holy place, built for holy purposes. But it was built by people, all of whom, like us, are subject to mixed motives and self-seeking behaviors. It was easy then, and it is easy now, to get off track. To forget our purpose. To rely only on ourselves and miss the opportunities to serve. May our own versions of the blind and the lame, the hurting people who need hope or the broken people who need healing, not be seen as interruptions or inconveniences but as the very reason why you bring us together into community. Turn over our tables if we ever lose sight of that. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Matthew 21:12-17”

  1. Gayle Says:

    I am grateful for these devotions and especially grateful for the prayer. Thank you.

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