“And He said to those who sold doves, ‘Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!’ Then His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.’ ” John 2:16–17
For the convenience of the worshippers at the temple a market had been set up to supply the necessary sacrifices for the temple and its services. Ordinarily this market was located a short distance outside the city walls, not far from temple, but for a period of four or five years, coinciding with the ministry of Christ, historical records show that temple officers had, in exchange for a share of the profit, allowed merchants to set up a market and money exchange in the temple court.
What a desecration of the hallowed precincts. Space dedicated to worship, prayer and solemn meditation is over run by the sounds and smells of a cattle market. Instead of the beautiful sounds of worship the raised voices of angry bargainers is heard. Worship is impossible.
Friends we need to worship God far more than we’re capable of realizing. It’s so easy for us to clutter up time and places that should only be reserved for his honor and praise with that which distracts us from worship.
For example, the Sabbath hours are a time set aside by God for us to give ourselves to worship and seeking him. The sabbath commandment commands us to cease working during the sabbath hours, and in Isaiah 58 we’re told to stop doing what would be pleasing to us and to seek for, and find delight in, worship and service to God on the sabbath day.
Still it’s so easy, even for those who have been raised to observe these instructions their whole lives, to allow sacred time to be filled with the common. Everyday entertainment, conversation that might be had any other day of the week, chores, shopping, vigorous exercise, any number of things, not immoral but certainly far from the Sabbath’s purpose of connecting us directly and intimately with God, are allowed to come in and prevent us from finding the blessing that God so desires to give and we so urgently need.
Like in the days of his ministry Jesus desires to clear away that which interferes with our connection with him and restore our ability to worship him.
We may have appreciated the blessing of time with him so little that we were willing to trade it away for profit and convenience but he doesn’t devalue his time with us so easily. Jesus has shown that he’s willing to fight for us. He clears away the profit seeking. He drives out cattle, sheep and doves making room of the humble seeker to find him.
The question is do we want to find him or will we keep looking for something else so that we can clutter that which is holy with the common?