When your dad owns the place, it changes the way you approach it.
I am reminded every time I see a certain pastor’s wife from my childhood of the time I asked her, “Do you know who my dad is?”
My dad was the camp director at the church camp we attended that particular year and, because of his position of leadership and influence (which to a small kid is pretty much the same as ownership) I felt that brought me a certain degree of… well, something akin to diplomatic immunity.
I was wrong… very, very wrong.
Nevertheless, there is something about being in your dad’s business or his house that a son naturally feels some degree of ownership or protectiveness toward it.
When I read in John chapter 2 about Jesus cleaning house in the temple in Jerusalem, I realize that this is a good thing.
Take a moment and read John 2.13-17.
It was a very important time in the temple as the people were coming to offer their passover sacrifices. As a matter of convenience, I’m sure, some of the authorities had allowed a sort of concession agreement to enable some local businessmen to set up a kiosk in the lobby to cater to those who had to travel some distance (which, of course, made the task of bringing animals for sacrifice much more difficult).
People being what people are, the profitability of such an arrangement had been recognized and sufficiently exploited as a significant business practice.
But they also had to have an exchange table that would convert the common Roman currency of the street into the exclusive currency of the temple… for a small convenience fee.
Jesus came into the temple, His Father’s house, and saw the bustling business taking place.
But notice his reaction:
“And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.” (John 2.15)
The response was immediate and harsh. It was the kind of outrageous action that would get most pastors immediately relieved of their duties. He was clearly very angry at what he found taking place in this space set aside for worship.
His comments give us more insight:
“And he told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’” (John 2.16)
Jesus had a passionate concern for what He referred to as “my Father’s house.” You see, even here Jesus was identifying himself as the Son of God. This seems to be John’s purpose behind relaying this event.
And, as John often does through his account, he relays a comment about how he and the others recognized in this event what the Scriptures had testified so long ago:
“His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’” (John 2.17)
John testifies here that Jesus’ followers, when reflecting on what they had witnessed, recalled Psalm 69 and recognized the fulfillment right before their eyes.
Jesus walked into the temple and observed the troubling things going on as the temple was being at the very least disrespected if not outrightly profaned. His reaction, though seemingly violent, was one of simply taking care of business in His Father’s house.
I wonder… what kind of passion ought we to have about our Father’s house today? I speak of the fellowship of believers in which we must be connected, the local faith family we call a church. Should we be outraged at profit-driven practices and self-benefitting arrangements?
Let me be clear: this is not about kids sharing fund-raisers for school in the church building. The building IS NOT THE CHURCH. The people are. Do we practice things as a people that are contradicting the work to which we have been called?
Maybe it’s time we speak up to the moneychangers around us and insist that our practices be cleansed and reformed. But one thing is for sure… we should have a Christ-like zeal for our Father’s house.
We need to prayerfully, obediently, set about taking care of business.
Father, give us a humble and holy zeal for Your house!