Temple Merchant, Mark 11: 15-18
Note to self – Read the prayer first!
I was all set to write my thoughts on this passage and then I read the prayer, “keep me from getting in the way of others who wish to worship you.” Wow. Do you think that we are ever a stumbling block to others? Is it possible that our words, actions, or even our profession could turn people off from worship? Do people look at us and see hypocrisy instead of devotion and loyalty to our God?
The merchants in the temple courts made the people to jump through a lot of hoop before they could get right with God. It was hard enough to leave your farm or business and travel to Jerusalem but that was only the first of many obstacles. When you arrived in Jerusalem, you had to find lodging even if it was just a field in which to camp (think Disney World at prime season). Then you had to stand in line and exchange your regular roman currency for temple money – Cha Ching. With your temple money in hand, you paid to have your animal inspected for sacrifice – no one could begin the barbeque until this was done. If the animal failed to pass inspection, you could buy another one, at a premium of course. The priests had turned their religious practices into a great business venture, but the worship of God got lost in the process.
Our Book of Confessions contains the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The first question is the most well-known: What is the chief end of humanity? Answer: Our chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy God forever. We need to ensure that our focus as a church is as simple as that – finding ways to glorify God and enjoy God. What obstacles can we remove so that others are drawn in and not turned away?