Mark 11:15-18 (NASB95)
15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; 16 and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. 17 And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.” 18 The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.
“My temple should be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” Pastor Mark Buchanan says, “That stands as one of the harshest indictments ever uttered against religious busyness and spiritual commercialism. Those words are all the sharper for coming from the mouth of Jesus.”
What was so offensive to Jesus about the money changers and sellers? They were, after all, making church relevant. People traveled to the temple, many of them, from long, dry, hot distances. They came on donkeys if they were wealthy, while the rest came on foot. It was impractical to bring with them a goat or even a pigeon to offer as a sacrifice at the temple. Often they carried only foreign currency, the coin of whatever region they lived in. It was a matter of convenience to provide, right on the temple grounds, a currency exchange, as well as a stall to buy an animal or goat or sheep or a bull to offer as a sacrifice. It served the needs of the people. But Jesus would have none of it.
Maybe his objection was the way we’re tempted to reduce religion to a commercial transaction, a business deal, rather than treat it as a relationship. Jesus is offended by the idea that a relationship with God is merely an exchange: I sacrifice this; you provide that. It is what the prophets so vigorously denounced. Read 1 Samuel 15:22 (NLT) “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.”
What God wants is you. Before he wants your sacrifices, he wants your attention. This is exactly what Pastor Josh has been telling us the last couple of weeks. He does not want a religious transaction where we try to give something to God in order to get something from God. No, God wants to have an interaction with us. This interaction with God comes by prayer and by our time we set apart for Him. During your time of prayer and fasting God seek to have an interaction with God and not just a transaction.
2) Pray for the Holy Spirit’s presence.
The Holy Spirit is the power that brings all the lasting fruit in the church. What we can accomplish on our own is extremely limited and short-lived. Pray that our church service and outreaches are powered by the Holy Spirit and this in turn energizes the congregation of Hope Fellowship to do more for the Kingdom of God.