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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, April 10, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Matthew 21:12–17             

Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.” The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became angry and said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself’?” He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there. (NRSV)

“Leader of peaceful movement turns violent at temple.” Surely that would be the contemporary news headline, had this High Holy Days event occurred in our time. The very spectacle of driving the moneychangers out of the temple could have driven Jesus straight out of history, obliterating any chance of his message reaching the hearts and minds of people far beyond Galilee. And yet he is revered across the centuries as the Prince of Peace. Clearly, the story of Jesus transcended the shock of this one sensational incident, allowing the full context of his influential ministry to speak to the ages. In a world charged with criticism and condemnation, are we likewise able to avoid judging others by the worst we’ve heard of them and instead seek the best we can find in them? This story moves us to ask this and other questions of ourselves.

For example, just as Jesus distinguished between the sacred and the profane, do we, in our lives, respect the sacredness of a house of worship and find time to drive out the worries of the world for the sake of the holy? Next, Jesus kept his focus on good works. After rebuking the moneychangers, he quickly turned to the important tasks of healing the blind and the lame. How well do we shake off frustration or disappointment and move to more productive pursuits? Ultimately, the very meaning of this story has grown, serving as a metaphor for cleansing the temple within. How are we preparing ourselves to receive the Easter message of redemption?

May this season of Lent compel us to make space for the holy amid the clamor of daily life.

Lead us, heavenly Father, to honor you in your holy sanctuaries, and inspire each of us to create a sanctuary within, using the timbers of devotion and prayer as we build upon the sure foundation of Christ. Amen.

Written by Sarah Forbes Orwig, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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