Cleansing the Temple and His People | Mark 11:15–19
After cursing the fig tree (vv. 12–14), Jesus and His disciples return to Jerusalem and the temple. Jesus had already investigated the temple the previous night (v. 11), so He knew what the issues were. It was full of corruption and lacking in what was needed. As such, He takes possession and occupies it for a time, providing what the people needed.
The Lord’s temple is to be pure. Almost like a flea market, merchants had tables offering animals, oil, wine, salt, and other items. Moreover, moneychangers exchanged foreign currencies to the acceptable coinage, charging as much as a 10–12% convenience fee. Additionally, locals carried their wares through the courtyard of the temple as a shortcut to other parts of the city. With the high priests bringing in a tidy profit on this commerce and the poor being fleeced, we can understand why Jesus overturned tables. He demands purity in His temple!
The Lord’s temple is to be prayerful. Jesus quotes from Isaiah 56:7 to demonstrate the purpose of the temple, and Jeremiah 7:11 to condemn everyone’s use of it. Rather than establishing a bazaar, God’s people should draw near to Him in prayer for communion and meditation (cf. Pss. 65:4; 27:4). His people include more than national Israel, so prayer should be available for everyone, regardless of ethnicity.
The Lord’s temple is to be propositional. Both vv. 17–18 mention Christ’s teaching, and it declared the truth of God’s Word. The temple should be somewhere to learn, and we do that through the precepts and propositions of Scripture.
Sadly, the temple was destroyed in ad 70. Still, we can consider these truths in our churches. Too many set up shops and merchandize the faith. May our goal be to establish houses of prayer and propositional teaching, not houses of wares!