“On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, ‘Is it not written: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’’”—Mark 11:15–17 (NIV)
The word zeal isn’t one you hear very often. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to hear it come up in everyday conversation. The dictionary defines zeal as “great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.” Some related words include passion, vigor, intensity, devotion, fervor, and fire.
As Jesus’ final week began, His issues with the established religious order escalated, starting when He rode into Jerusalem on what we now affectionately call Palm Sunday. Things heated up more the following day, as Jesus walked into His Father’s house and saw those He referred to as “robbers” taking advantage of God’s people.
Naturally, Jesus, being filled with zeal for God’s house and God’s children, took action. He “entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves” (Matthew 21:12 NIV). You see, our Lord wouldn’t stand for such abuse upon those who sought to be closer to God. These were men and women coming to the temple in order to offer a sacrifice to the Lord, and they were being taken advantage of.
At that moment, once again He showed Himself to be the voice of the voiceless and the defender of the defenseless. He caused a scene, ruffled some feathers, and no doubt stirred hearts. He disrupted the business of religion and, in doing so, drew the anger of the religious leaders who had already decided to have Jesus killed.
There’s something powerful you need to see here. Did you know this wasn’t the first time He did this? In John 2:13–25, we’re told that toward the beginning of His ministry, three years earlier, He did the very same thing! So, if you think about it, He pretty much bookended His public ministry with the same action—He began it with clearing the temple and He ended it by clearing the temple.
Why is this important? Because it’s exactly what He does in us! In our lives, when we first come to Jesus, He comes into our hearts and lives and cleanses our temples. He turns over table after table of our old lives. He drives out the thief who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy our souls (John 10:10) and takes up residence in our temples. He who made His dwelling among us (John 1:14) now makes His dwelling within us (Romans 8:10).
If you’ve never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, today can be the day He drives out the darkness and brings peace, love, and hope into the temple of your soul! All you need to do is believe in Him and cry out to Him (Romans 10:13).
But thank the Lord that’s not the end of it . . . How so? Because just as He returned to Jerusalem and turned the tables over again, every once in a while our hearts require tables to be turned over again! From time to time, sometimes from minute to minute, we need the Lord to turn over the tables of things like idolatry, strongholds, secret sin, and bitterness. We need Him to drive out the things that have set up residence in our hearts that are not of Him. And the beautiful thing of it all is that He never loses His zeal, passion, fire, or fervor for us! His love never needs rekindling. He is zealous for you and me, and He never gives up on us.
You don’t have to do it on your own. You don’t need to turn over your tables for the Lord to dwell in you. He loves you and if you have given your life to Him, He dwells in you.
Today, press into Him. Ask Him to search your heart to “point out anything in [you] that offends [Him], and lead [you] along the path of everlasting life” (Psalm 139:24 NLT) and trust that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NIV).
Blessings upon blessings!