Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 14, 2014

the court of the Gentiles

One of the great joys in really reading and experiencing the Bible, is having moments when you are reading along in a familiar passage and suddenly feel compelled to put the Good Book down, sit back, and say or think the words, “It’s like I just read that for the first time!”  Another, is coming together with brothers and sisters around the Word and having someone share what God has spoken into their life and seeing with new eyes a truth of Scripture.  The post today has both of those elements at its source.

Since reading Mark 11:11 like I had just read it for the first time, my view of Monday’s major event in the last week of Jesus has been fixed on the measured and intentional nature of Jesus’ temple cleansing.  To know that He was there the day before and “looked around,” casts a whole new light on what could look like a “reaction” to something Jesus was seeing for the first time.  And while this truth remains a core part of this story, a friend shared something with me during last year’s lent season that has come back up in conversation many times since.

A few weeks ago, I felt a strong leading to talk with Dennis and ask him to consider collaborating with me on today’s post.  Please come together with me around today’s passage in Mark 11 and share in what God has spoken into my friend’s life…

I must confess, whenever I read the story of Jesus’ cleansing the temple, I feel my own heartbeat quicken and the adrenaline pumping in my veins. Jesus is angered and indignant over what is going on in his Father’s house. In my mind I see the tables flying, the coin scattering, the animals scurrying about, and people stepping out of his way. It feels good … “Get ‘em Jesus.” But more recently, I have come to see that I really have missed the whole point! Jesus’ anger and indignation truly is for his Father’s glory, whereas mine is for those who have frustrated my plans or belittled my purposes.

I have also come to see that Jesus’ concern for his Father’s purposes is larger than I had first thought. I see this in His words to crowd around Him when He says “Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? (Mark 11:17)  While Jesus’ actions were showing his devotion to his Father they were also showing his devotion to the love of his Father for all people. You see, the outermost court of the temple was called the court of the Gentiles. This was the place that God had provided for the people who were not allowed in the temple proper, to come and worship God. And many biblical scholars believe this was the site where all this took place. The people of Jesus’ day, the chosen people, were saying in effect as they worshiped God, “we don’t care about you”. This breaks the Father’s heart and, in-turn, the heart of Jesus.

I’d like to be able to end here and send you off with an appropriate biblical quote or a wise snippet, but I can’t. For you see, at times, I have been that money changer. I have set up shop in the court of the Gentiles. I have done that every time I have ignored, put off, or just been indifferent to someone, because I didn’t think they were worth my time or the interruption they would cause as I ran off to worship or serve my God!

But our God is gracious, and loving, and forgiving. What He did that day was an act of love toward those money-changers, those in the temple that bought and sold, those who had forgotten the true purpose of worship. What He did that day was for us. In everything that God says and does, He is redirecting us back to the center, to His purpose, to Himself. He does not want us to get lost in the outward trappings, schedules, and busyness of worship and service. If we are sensitive to His leading, He will help us keep all things in proper order as His love flows through us to the people around us.

So today, as you walk with your God, enjoy all the people who He brings into your courts.  And if after stopping to spend time with someone, you find you didn’t accomplish all that you had planned, it’s okay … God said so!!

“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere”. Enjoy Him!!

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