Den of Thieves - What are They Stealing? | Matthew 21:12-16 | 117

Mat 21:12 Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. Mat 21:13 He said to them, "The Scriptures declare, 'My Temple will be called a house of prayer,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves!"Mat 21:14 The blind and the lame came to Him in the Temple, and He healed them. Mat 21:15 The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, "Praise God for the Son of David." But the leaders were indignant. Mat 21:16 They asked Jesus, "Do You hear what these children are saying?" "Yes," Jesus replied. "Haven't you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, 'You have taught children and infants to give You praise.'"

What is really being stolen at the Temple of the Lord?

I've been puzzling this passage over for quite a few days now, not sure which direction to go with it. I know that many people like to portray this scene as though Jesus were an angry raving-mad person who through violence forced the money changers out of the temple with whip in hand; but I know they are wrong to portray it that way.

Jesus emptied that temple with authority that shown from his countenance. They left because they were told to by the King of the Universe. Even the leading priest left, and I see that the end result was a scene of Jesus standing with a few of His disciples alone in the now empty temple. The silence must have been deafening. The sense of awesome power and authority...overwhelming.

Consider that time when you were a child who got caught doing something you knew you weren't supposed to do. Your mother or father need only to give you a look and it made your heart want to turn tail and run. You knew you had done wrong because your mother's eyes said it all. All these supposed great men, these leaders of religious services, and these money changers - felt that way. They felt it so intensely that they fled from His presence.

So, what was wrong with what they were doing in the temple. Was it the commerce? Was it the selling of items and the exchange of money that was the problem? We like to take it there but let's consider that maybe this was a spiritual problem and those things were only the outward display of the problem.

Notice that Jesus commands them with few words, but those words are a quote from scripture, Isaiah 56:7. He doesn't just tell them that it is wrong for them to buy and sell in the temple, He instead goes directly to the real problem which is that the temple is no longer a true house of prayer. The blessing that the temple should be to the people has been "stolen" and it is now a weight upon the shoulders of the poor.

Notice that they are in the section of the temple where the doves were being sold. This was the poor mans sacrifice; yet at this time sick, blind, crippled or diseased people were not let anywhere near the temple. Even a priest who had become defiled by disease or crippled by an accident was no longer allowed access to the temple. This was the true theft. Men had defiled the House of God by turning it into a place that kept out the very people God desired to lay His hands on. This was the real crime; the theft that God will not allow to continue.

His House will be cleansed. His people will be purified through the Holy Spirit. They will once again feel the deep need to repent and fall on their faces before their Holy God and they will rejoice once again as He lays His healing hands upon them. Amen.

Notice what the end result to this encounter with Jesus was...the sick, crippled and blind came into the temple that they had been denied access to for so long...and were finally healed by Him. They were the ones that did not flee from His Holy Authority; but instead, came to it without earned favor asking to be healed. And what did those healing encounters with Jesus produce? PRAISE and GLORY to the SON OF DAVID! PRAISE AND GLORY TO JESUS!

Dear Friend. Stop letting your sinful nature keep you from God's House of Prayer. Allow Him to cleanse your temple; He will and, let us not forget, only He can. Repent of your sins and seek the mercy that He is so willing to give. You cannot hide from God. You cannot flee to a place that He does not know your heart. Why run? Don't you know that you are sick and blind and diseased? Embrace His love and let it heal you.


Dear Lord of Heaven and Earth,

I praise You today for the healing love that You are so willing to give. I praise You for being the healer of my heart. Forgive my sins Lord. Cleanse my temple and lead me down Your path. I don't want to be anything but useful to You. Help me to stop running and to start coming to You boldly.

Watch over my children. Keep them safe and forgive their sins Lord. Cover them with your robe of righteousness. Bring them through this valley of death that we may see them together in your Kingdom.

Thank you for providing our needs. I love You Lord. Amen.