Based on what happened on Monday of Holy Week
. . . what should I do?
Today is Palm Sunday as Jesus enters Jerusalem to cheers and waving palms. On Friday, Jesus will be nailed to the cross . . . but what of the days in between?
From the gospel writers, we can piece together much of Jesus' activity, and it is rather telling. On Sunday afternoon Jesus walks through the temple, ostensibly surveying the goings-on in his Father's house. In the evening, Jesus goes back to Bethany to spend the night at the home of Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus. 1
On Monday, Jesus returns to Jerusalem and to the Temple, about a two-mile walk, where he would spend hours the next couple days, teaching and fielding questions from the Jewish leaders. But first ... he would do something that seems absolutely contrary to the Jesus we have known-
We have seen Jesus, baptized by John in the Jordan River,
~calling his disciples to follow him... and they do
~touching and healing more people than we can count,
~sitting as he taught in the synagogue, imparting great wisdom,
~teaching from the fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee,
~calming the waves, stilling the wind that caused them,
~freeing the demon possessed from their torment
~gathering little children into his arms to love them...
so what he does next seems totally out of character:
"Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple area and began to drive out those who were selling and buying on the temple grounds, and He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple grounds. And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard this, and they began seeking how to put Him to death; for they were afraid of Him, because all the crowd was astonished at His teaching. 2 This is the second time Jesus cleansed the temple. 3
Why such a violent display by the Lamb of God? Wasn't Jesus' behavior a bit extreme? Clearly, he was trying to make a very loud statement. Remember, these are the last days of our Lord's life, so he is demonstrating the values and impressions he embodies - and the heart of the Father, who said, "My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples. "4
Hmmm . . . My house will be called a house or prayer for all peoples.
In our houses of worship, how much time is actually spent in prayer? I think of my church, as you think of yours, if you attend ~ is prayer a value that is upheld in our churches, such that they could be called 'houses of prayer'?
And being that this is one of the last messages of our Lord, what does it mean for you and for me today? Prayer is a gift, intended to be a priority in our lives; not just at church, but in our individual, daily lives.
Many of us have observed some sort of Lenten exercise, but I believe we have a challenge to come out of this Holy Week that ought radicalize our lives:
Let us learn to become people who ardently pray and seek God.
Best message I have heard on this passage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U79YOKje2zU
"My house shall be called a house of prayer" impassioned message by Pastor Jim Cymbala. Listen/watch, consider and be challenged.
In light of what Jesus has revealed in his radical behavior just a few days before he goes to the cross, once again I ask myself 'How then shall I live?' I consider what God declared, "Be still and know that I am God."5 That means I ought quiet myself and enter into God's presence as I pray (not just shoot up prayers on the fly throughout my day). Individually, I must make prayer a priority. Indeed, David was an exemplary model: "In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly."6
Ah, yes, mornings. In all things, Jesus is our role model. Our Lord liked to get to himself and pray in the quiet of the morning as well. You know, it takes discipline to intentionally carve out time for prayer in the morning, but it is worth it. When I start my day in prayer ~ talking to God, listening for his voice, asking for wisdom, thanking him for his gifts ~ I am a better woman. Yes, this is why I talk about it so much!
'You? I mean, you wouldn't want the Lord to come and turn over tables in your life to get your attention, would you? Oddly enough, sometimes when life is most out of our control, we realize there is nothing we can do but pray, and we find relief in doing so. But perhaps your life seems rather calm just now . . . why not flip the script and commit yourself to God as you start your day? Adore him for Who He Is, Confess your sin and shortcomings to him, ask for his wisdom and guidance, and thank him for the very gift of life today. O, that you and I will live close enough to him today to hear his voice in the wind.
1 - Lazarus, who Jesus had recently raised from the dead...John 11.17-18
2 - Mark 11.15-19
3 - John 2.13-17
4 - Isaiah 56.7
5 - Psalm 46.10
6 - Psalm 5.3