Reader: “My Temple will be called a house of prayer”
Response: “for all nations.”
Scripture: Mark 11:15-19
When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. But they were afraid of him because the people were so amazed at his teaching.
That evening Jesus and the disciples left the city.
Reader: “This is Mark’s record of what happened . . .”
Response: “in the days leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion.”
If you knew you were to die for certain in three weeks, what would you do? My guess is you could care less about “March Madness” or finishing up the quarterly report or who will win the next election, after all, no one comes into power unless God has allowed it. My guess is we’d call together the people we are close to and love dearly and tell them what is really important to us. It most likely wouldn’t have to do with mundane things. I’ve always been curious as to those things that were significant to Jesus as he neared the end of his earthly life. Unlike us, he knew he was going to die and knew when he would die. This pericope gives us one of the early insights into Jesus’ perspective as to what was important to God. His house, the Temple, was to be a place of prayer for everyone, not just the Jews. (That was a surprise to everyone!) It was to be a place of communing with God the Father, of intimate conversation with the Creator. It had become something else, a place of crass religious business. As you might guess, the merchants were not pleased that he called them out and destroyed their racket. So the religious leaders and teachers, encouraged by the merchants no doubt, began to hatch a plot to kill Jesus, even though he was very popular. Jesus’ bottom line was communion with his Father. I wonder if that is what happens when the body of Christ gathers for worship these days? Is worship in your church a place of communing with the Father as a congregation or do we have a “high five, yeah Jesus time”? When was the last time the body of Christ was on its knees in repentance in awe of our life-giving Savior? Just asking. So, what would you say to your children, grandchildren, or nieces or nephews, or some other close friends as you came to the end of your life on earth? My father finished lunch, went out in the barnyard to move a grain elevator, and a split second later was in heaven when a cable snapped. What are the most important things you want to communicate to your loved ones? What’s keeping you? You know, you are not guaranteed next week or even tomorrow.
Music: “Salvation Is Created” Tschesnokoff, National Lutheran Choir
Almighty God, the giver of all life and breath and hope, I worship and glorify your holy name. The whole creation has come into being through your power; and I rejoice that your purpose for creation is a loving purpose. You revealed your love for me in Jesus Christ; and I am privileged indeed to have been brought to a living faith in you. Forgive me, Lord, for the times I have made myself and my feelings the center of my worship. With people in every corner of the world I join our offering of worship with the offering that rises to you constantly from earth and heaven. Blessing and honour and glory and power be to our God―Father, Son and Spirit―on this day and always; through the priesthood of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
―Prayers for Sunday Services, p.40, adapted Daniel Sharp