“My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers. Matthew 21:13
Authority. That’s what Monday is about. Yesterday, on Palm Sunday, we saw a preview of the fight that was to come. On one side, we can see the fans and true followers of Jesus. Their cries of “Hosanna” are still hanging in the air. On the other side, we see the residents of Jerusalem asking “Who is this Jesus?” One side is worshipping. One side is asking questions. Both don’t see clearly. Both are confused. Both will be in the crowd when Jesus goes to the Cross.
The questions on Sunday turn into a heated conflict on Monday. Jesus will cross the point of no return. In one of the many ironies of the gospels, Jesus enters the temple and finds people purchasing their sacrifices for Passover. They were exchanging their own currencies for temple currencies so they could buy animals for their own sacrifices. Jesus, the One to whom all their purchased sacrifices would point, flips over the tables of the “money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.”
Jesus threw them out because they were profaning His House. Not only were they literally robbing the people with shady exchange rates, but they were dishonoring the very place where God had met with his people for centuries. Remember, Moses and the Israelites wandering in the desert for forty years carrying around the ark, Joshua fighting battle after battle to secure a place for this temple to be built, Nehemiah painstakingly rebuilding a wall to protect this place. The holy place of communion with God had been reduced to an amazon.com shopping cart.
“My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers” Jesus tells them.
Can you imagine the audacity?
Jesus, the son of a carpenter from Nazareth, calls their house His House. This is a big deal. Imagine a bunch of Purdue basketball fans walking into Assembly Hall at IU, or New England Patriots fans marching into Lucas Oil, and chanting “This is our house!” Multiply that by a million and you begin to get a sense of the conflict that is brewing.
While the masses hang on Jesus’ every word and the blind and the lame came to be healed, the chief priests and scribes—those in power—look for a way to get rid of this blasphemer and this threat to the existing order of things.
Authority. That is the issue.
Now let’s make it personal. Here’s the challenge Monday brings to us. Who has ultimate authority in your life?
We ask this question a lot of different ways. We can use churchy language and say “I want Jesus to be Lord of my life” and sing “He’s the King of my Heart.”
But what does that really mean?
As a culture, especially in a country founded on overthrowing the king, we don’t particularly like authority, unless we have it! We like to pursue our own dreams, make our own agenda, and exercise our own rights. Anything that gets in the way, we tend to rebel against. As Indiana’s own, John Mellencamp sings, “I been doing it, since I was a young kid. . . I fight authority, authority always wins.”
Authority gets a bad rap in our culture. Because we think we have a better way.
Jesus comes onto the scene and claims authority, but his authority is different. Why? Because He is the author of life. The writer of Hebrews states it plainly, “Jesus is the author and perfector of our faith.” He created us. He saves us. He is worthy of our obedience to his authority
But here’s the amazing thing about the authority of Jesus. It is a good thing, not a bad thing. Why? It is rooted in his love for us. That’s why he went to the Cross for us. That’s what this whole week is about. Once we understand that, we can obey. The authority of Jesus is not defined by rules and checklists. It is rooted in a relationship.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” Jesus tells us. The key to following Jesus and his teaching is loving him. I obey, not to earn his love. I obey simply because I love him. I love him, because he first loved me.
This is true authority. This is Jesus.
Where is it hard for you to obey Jesus? Do you really want to change? Do you want to not want what you now want?
Lord Jesus, help me to see you more clearly so that I can love you more deeply and obey you more fully.