As Jesus entered Jerusalem, making His way to the temple, He journeyed up the southern steps with the other pilgrims. These steps were preparation for worship. The pilgrims, making their way to the presence of God in the temple, would sing the songs of ascent (Psalms 120-134). They would pass through the Huldah Gates, under the wall and toward Mount Moriah, through the Court of Gentiles and the Court of Women into the temple with songs of praise to God.
On the southern steps and along the porticos, money changers set up their tables. Around 30 AD, temple authorities moved the sale of animals for sacrifice from the Mount of Olives into the temple precincts, especially the Court of Gentiles, probably so that they could get a portion of the profits from the sales. Rather than providing sacred space for Gentiles to seek God, the religious leaders set up tables for profit that blocked worship. Jesus saw through their disguise of dedication with disgust. Jesus was indignant because they were impeding worship.
So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” (Mark 11:15-17, NKJV)
Jesus overturned the tables in the temple as a picture of what needs to happen in our lives as His people. He is King and Lord of All, and He evaluates us today, seeking to cleanse our hearts so that we might worship God faithfully and be a witness to all nations.
What tables in our lives need to be overturned by Jesus? Anything that becomes an obstacle to our faithful and consuming worship of the living God. Jesus has overturned tables in my life this week. As He has scrutinized my life, He has revealed the obstacles in my life that He desires to remove. His divine hand of discipline and love compels me to confess my sin. Because He is the Lord of my life, I submit to His scrutiny and confess those sins, turning from them.
What tables in our lives need to be overturned by Jesus? Anything that becomes an obstacle for honest seekers of God in their pursuit of Him. Like the tables in the Court of Gentiles, our attitudes or actions have become obstacles for those who are far from God. Because Jesus is the Lord of our lives, we must submit to His divine hand of discipline and love and relinquish our rights to tables that block the way for others to encounter Him.
As we walk through this Holy Week in preparation for Resurrection Sunday, I pray that Jesus would have free reign in your heart and mine to overturn tables, to remove obstacles to worship God.