After Jesus made his way into Jerusalem at the beginning of what we call "Holy Week" - after the throngs welcomed him with palm branches and hosannas and "Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord" - he went to the temple, his Father's house. What He found there caused him great concern - so much so that he became what some might call enraged.
What was the problem? The temple that was supposed to be a place of ministry and prayer had become a marketplace; a place where locals sold there wares and a place where the "money changers" took advantage of the poor who were trying to find a way to make their offerings to their God in this holy place.
We even read how Jesus became so angry that he began to beat the money changers and the temple retailers with a whip while overturning the tables and making sure his point was understood.
His message was simple ... "My temple should be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!"
If we follow the scriptures in Matthew chapter 21, we see Jesus describing in word and deed what his house should be.
It should be a house of prayer: "My house shall be a house of prayer ..." (Matthew 21:13) ... It should be a house of power: "Then the blind and lame came to him in the temple and her healed them. (Matthew 21:14) ... And it should be a house of praise: "Out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants you have perfected praise." (Matthew 21:16)
I believe we can see a great need for these attributes in the church today. Many go to church out of habit, or self imposed responsibility, or for some other reason.
But are our churches really places of prayer? Many signs are posted across the nation that say, "Wednesday Prayer Meeting." But when the people gather do they really pray, or is it just another meeting? Are our churches places that show forth the healing power of God? Many quote the scriptures but fall short on actually praying for the needs - physical and otherwise -- of the people who need those prayers. And are our churches truly houses of praise, or do we merely sing a few songs because that's what we are supposed to do; because of tradition?
To take this even one step further, we need to remember that because of the finished work of Christ, and the fulfillment of the promise -- the sending of the Holy Spirit -- as believers, our bodies are now the temple of God.
Are these temples we live in houses of prayer? ... Houses of power? ... Houses of praise?
Just something to think about as we prepare to enter into the week of the Christ's passion.