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March 20th, 2005—The Cleansing of the Temple

Here in Matthew Chapter 21, we find Jesus commencing His final week of ministry upon this earth before the cross. He is now ready to offer Himself publicly to Israel as their long-awaited Messiah, as well as (and not as completely understood by them) their long awaited sacrifice. As Jesus enters the city gate, it is believed, by some, that the gate he enters is the “sheep gate.” It is the same gate through which the Jews will be bringing their sacrificial lambs without blemish to offer to God for their sins at the celebration of the PASSOVER in the few short days to come. Before this day, Jesus had entered Israel always quietly and unobtrusively. But today he will not hide his identity, nor will he hide His authority. 

Matthew 21:1–3

1: And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,

2: Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.

3: And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.

Some believe that Christ arranged previously with a man for the use of a donkey and colt for just this particular day, and he knew that they would be there. However, others believe that this was a miraculous demonstration of Christ’s Lordship over all things, and that he used His Godly trait of Omniscience just as he had demonstrated before when calling Nathaniel...

John 1:47, 48

47: Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!

He had never met Nathaniel before. How did Jesus know who Nathaniel was?

48: Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

And just as Christ could see Nathaniel before time, He saw, also, these two animals. And he dispatched his disciples to gather them in.

And the Scripture says,

Matthew 21:4, 5

4: All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,

5: Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

Let me quote you specifically this prophecy, because we will see that only a portion of that prophecy was recorded here in Matthew 21:4, 5

Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Now note:  Matthew doesn’t record the “rejoicing” part of that prophecy. Nor does he say anything about the King’s bringing “Salvation.”

Because “the rejoicing of Israel is not to come at this advent of Christ.”

And victory for Israel is not to come at this advent of Christ!

Jesus is going to be riding into Jerusalem to face rejection and death at the hands of the government, the church, and the people.

It is not yet a day of rejoicing for Israel.

It is not yet a day of victory for Israel.

But it is a day for the Lamb of God to begin his approach to the altar of sacrifice.

On this very day, the Jews are preparing for the celebration of the PASSOVER.

On this very day, Jews are selecting that perfect lamb from the folds that they will offer to God as a sacrifice for their sins.

And on this very day, Christ, the Lamb of God, will present himself as the Messiah of Israel in perfect accord with the prophecy of Zechariah!

Matthew 21:6–9

6: And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,

7: And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.

8: And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.

9: And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

In these verses we note something very wonderful. Before, when men wanted to exalt Christ, Christ would say, be quiet, tell no one, for my time is not yet. But now Christ will not silence the multitudes...

Today is the day of which the Angel told Daniel that Christ would come to His people.

Daniel 9:25–26

25: Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

“Daniel,” the angel was saying, “your Messiah will come 483 years after the commandment goes forth to rebuild the walls and the streets of Jerusalem.”

This is the very day that Christ was prophesied to come! Jesus was not going to silence the people today!

Luke 19:39–40

Luke tells us that the Pharisees wanted Jesus to tell the people to be quiet and to rebuke them.

39: And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.

40: And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

Here is a wonderful, and yet very tragic truth:

If we will not lift praises to the Lord Jesus Christ,

If we will not exalt and extol the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords,

Nature itself will receive that great privilege.

Greatly misunderstood are Paul’s words,

1 Timothy 2:12

I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man...

The Bible makes it clear that God holds man responsible for his house (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23). This is also true in the church leadership! The woman is not to be made to carry the burden of teaching or preaching in the church! Men are supposed to take their God-given role of leadership. But if they don’t, God will lay the message upon the heart of the woman. And if the woman will not cry out...God will call the very rocks to cry out!

God is going to have his voice heard, whether it comes from a man, woman, child, sea breezes, or stones....God will find a willing servant!

In this man Jesus, God was going to give the people victory over their Oppressor. And restore the mighty kingdom of David.

And so they cried,

Matthew 21:9

…Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

The people were expecting great things from Jesus! And they were ready to make him their king...

They were ready to lay all that they had at the feet of Christ! It was a great and exciting day!

Matthew 21:10, 11

10: And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?

11: And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

Many were asking the question, “Who is this man?”

If that question were asked of you today, could you respond with an accurate answer?

Would he just be a prophet of Nazareth of Galilee?

Would he just be a holy man bringing spiritual enlightenments and truth?

Or would you be able to say, “Jesus?  Why, He’s my LORD and Saviour!”

But there were those asking this question on that very day...But the answer proved weak and frail.

Jesus was more than a prophet, and he proved that in the following verses.

Matthew 21:12, 13

12: And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

13: And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Money and merchandise were everywhere. What were they selling? Doves, sparrows, and sheep, and other religious items, under the guise of religion. The Temple had become a kind of “flea” market for religious trinkets and the like. The Temple had become a place for conducting business rather than for worship and prayer. What kind of a blessing can people receive from such a place?

The Temple leadership was rather interested in money, and position and power. How can God break through and minister when the church is not centered upon Him, when the church is not concerned about the lost, nor anxious in prayer?

What condition is your temple in today?

What is the chief concern of your life? Money? Position? Power?

None of these will bring the blessing that God can bring to your life.

None of these can bring true happiness, contentment, and joy as a personal relationship and walk, day by day, with the Lord Jesus Christ can bring.

You may not be interested in money, position, or power. But you may be living your life every day striving to be accepted by this person or that person, this group or that group.

My friend, I want to assure you that if you’re looking for acceptance in this world, you are moving away from the creator of this world.

James 4:4

Ye adulterers and adulteresses…

These are people who have left their first love and are foolishly and carelessly searching for new love and acceptance in a world of ungodliness and unbelief.

And my friend, you can’t chase after the world and the friendship of the world and ever find contentment, peace, and acceptance with Christ

…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Jesus Christ said, if you want find true satisfaction in this world. If you want to find the peace of God that passes all understanding, you must first seek friendship with HIM.

Matthew 6:33

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

What is your burden this morning?

What impossible challenge are you facing?

What kind of rejection are you facing?

Listen, when Christ is in the temple, wonderful things can take place. Miracles can begin to happen. Jesus, first, cleansed the temple, and then blessings began to flow .

Matthew 21:14

14: And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.

When they came to Him, He healed them. And He gave them new life, and new hope, and joy of heart!

This can happen to you as well.

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

He wants to lift that burden, and He knows exactly how and when to lift it! But you must trust Him completely!

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Christ came to the Temple and, with great authority, set it right! Now some in the church didn’t like that at all. He was robbing them of their authority, and their position, and their power.

When you give your life to Christ, and you allow the Holy Spirit of God to begin to rule and reign in your life, the world is not going to like it. Your friends will expect you to continue to eat, drink, and be merry. But your heart will tell you something else. It will remind you that you are a child of the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. It will remind you that the blood of your Savior was poured out to cover your sins of lawlessness and unrestraint in the past and it will encourage you to serve Christ, rather than the world. And your old friends will see the change in you and they will not like it.

Matthew 21:15, 16

15: And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,

16: And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

The scribes and the priest were Jealous! Just like Lucifer who became Satan. And jealousy and hatefulness and spite will never draw Christ to you, but it will drive Him away from you!

And maybe that’s what you want!

Matthew 21:17

17: And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.

This morning, for someone, Christ has become very real to you. Your heart has been pricked, and you want to answer God’s call, but you’re afraid.

Christ is calling you this morning.  He is the Prince of Peace.

Satan is the prince of fear and trembling—the prince of darkness.

I encourage you, as Christ calls you this morning, to cast off the cloak of fear and trembling, and heed the moving of the Holy Spirit upon your heart, and step out of Satan’s darkness, and into Christ’s marvelous light of peace and Salvation.

Christ is passing by you this morning, and he beckons you to come.

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