It was fascinating listening to Pastor Ed speak on the significance of the Temple during Jesus’ days on earth. Proclaimed one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, this 35-acre complex of courtyards, inner courtyards and sacred central rooms, high atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, was an imposing edifice casting a huge shadow on faith, culture, commerce and daily transit. The outer and largest courtyard, the Courtyard of the Gentiles, was a place where the “nations” could come and encounter the One True God. As Jesus entered the Courtyard of the Gentiles this final week before His crucifixion, He saw a cross-city transit route used by people to get from one side of the Temple Mount to the other – a business and social shortcut. He observed a hustling, usurious marketplace of money changers, animals-for-sacrifice dealers, other peddlers and the all too important Temple Tax collection boxes. What once was a place where truth-seekers could freely meet the One True God had become a pay-per-view profit center. Connecting with God had become much more difficult, expensive and perhaps now unattainable. The barriers were formidable. It is no wonder Jesus dramatically cast out this unholy commerce.
Easter Week is upon us. Inviting and welcoming the many who do not know Jesus as Savior is a foundational pillar of GateWay. The obvious question in my mind is what barriers have we erected at GateWay that makes it difficult to enter our “courtyards?” The significance of this is immense given that 80+% of the population of Visalia do not attend a church on any given Sunday. We have a huge opportunity to make a difference in our community.
A question perhaps less obvious but more compelling for me follows from this verse. 1 Corinthians 6:19 reads: Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? I am a temple of the One True God. He is in me and works through me. Therefore, what sort of “marketplace” mentality inhabits this temple? Are we loaded with mental, emotional, relational or spiritual “vendors” that make it too “expensive” for me to connect with Jesus? Do we feel we do not have the correct type of “holy coins” to come close to Jesus? Or are we simply on the transit route going in one time a week as we traverse our busy week? And what of those we are in contact with daily that really need to know Jesus? Most often people come to church and to know Jesus because they are invited by someone they know. It is the personal connection that opens the channel for the eternal connection. Is our temple “outer court” where connection with Jesus through our story can take place so crowded to an extent that these divine appointments are excluded? Maybe we can use a little “Jesus cleaning out the temple” action.
Fellow sojourners we are indeed fortunate. While we were yet sinners, Jesus died for us and rose from the grave. We need The Savior daily. Let us let Him clean out our temples and let the light shine.