Spring cleaning is a familiar chore many are not thrilled to begin. It might be safe to say many do not look forward to annually cleaning out anything. Spring cleaning is done in houses, churches, and even offices. Some may in fact become anxious weeks before it happens. Some attribute the anxiety to things that we believe are important being inventoried and thrown out. When asked spring cleaning normally consists of methodically getting rid of useless things long forgotten, or so we say. Old toys that children no longer use; clothes that we have outgrown or perhaps anything that seems to not have a place anymore. It can deal with actually cleaning, wiping down, and removing the dust off forgotten items.
Growing up, there is only one problem that I believe is valid with spring cleaning. I did not see the purpose in getting rid of stuff that I still believed had value. In my feeble attempt to rationalize why there is significance in the things I want to keep, the end goal should be to reduce junk and gain space for what was important.
And to those who were selling the doves, He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.”
~ John 2:16 NASB ~
The temple clearing is a familiar passage and not only expresses the power and boldness of Jesus in a moment but also his anger. The Messiah expresses anger fueled by love and respect for the Father.
Jerusalem was both the religious and political seat of Palestine and was believed to be the place where Christ was expected to come since the temple was located there. The temple area was always crowded during Passover with thousands of visitors. The religious leaders crowded it further by allowing money changers and merchants to set up shop in the Court of the Gentiles, outside the temple. They rationalized this practice as a convenience for the worshipers and as a way to make money for temple upkeep. When in reality, the religious leaders were using the services of the holy temple to cover up their sins. They were not concerned that the Court of Gentiles was full of merchants and visitors were finding it difficult to worship because of the distractions that were consuming the house.
When you come to appear before Me, who requires of you this trampling of My courts?
~ Isaiah 1:12 NASB ~
Jesus was angry when he came to the temple. The purpose of the temple was a gathering place for those who needed help but this selling distracted from the real purposes being fulfilled. In fact, the Court of Gentiles was the only place in the temple that was available to the Gentiles. There the Jews could witness to their pagan neighbors and tell them about their true and living God. These activities were preventing the message of the forgiveness of sin and the possibility for salvation by those that entered in the Temple. A true encounter with the Lord was missed by many due to the neglect of a few.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
~ Psalms 139:23-24 NASB ~
Have we taken an introspection look into our own lives? Have we missed encounters with the Savior due to things we have preventing Jesus from reaching the heart of who we are? Has he been in the vicinity but maybe our unwillingness to move the distractions (unhealthy relationships, stressful careers, pornographic addiction, selfishness) kept Him from reaching us the way He desires? Maybe we have never sold merchandise in God’s house but have we ever participated in “religious” worship to give the people the impression that we were godly? Secretly, having our own motives for coming to church. Singing in the choir to have the solo, giving a large offering for the Christmas holiday to make up for the entire year of not bringing the tithes. Or perhaps coming to the early service only to not miss kickoff in the afternoon.
Just like spring cleaning, I encourage you to get rid of the junk and make space for Jesus Christ to be able to enter in and dwell with you. What could we consider junk? Old attitudes, habits, and ways of thinking may need to be removed- to make room for new ways. Perhaps old friendships and relationships that are just taking up space may need to be forgotten. For many, this may be a hard decision to make to physically remove someone from our lives. Remember the goal is to always make room for Christ to dwell within. Allow Him in all parts and see how He can change you for the better.
You will be grateful you did.