March 18, 2024

Cleansing the Temple - Morning Devotion on Mar. 18, 2024

Cleansing the Temple

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be called a house of prayer but you are making it a den of robbers."

Matthew 21:12-13

In the city of Jerusalem, Jesus was sometimes angered at the immoral behavior of the people. He even overturned the moneychangers' tables in a moment of violence. By normal standards he should have been arrested, and no civil court would have vindicated him. But under the law of God Jesus had not committed any sin. Civil law is not heavenly law.

Do you want to become a person who will be judged in God's court, or become a person who can even rise above the court of God? What kind of person should you become to rise above God's judgment? Become a savior by adopting the savior's way of life as your way of life. You can be a person who can give salvation to the world and who can say, "I will be responsible for the world and all of humanity; I will give my entire life and soul and energy for that purpose." Then you are indeed walking side by side with the Messiah.

The Age of Judgment and Ourselves
November 21, 1976

If a soldier kills many of the enemy on the battlefield, he may be given the Medal of Honor. However, if that same soldier even accidentally kills someone during peacetime, then he is called a criminal. Both are acts of murder. Why do people applaud one act but punish the other? Only one thing makes his actions different: the soldier is not motivated by personal benefit to kill in combat. When his action is a public one for the defense of his nation then he is honored, but if he kills at home for his own selfish reasons then he is condemned.

In light of this, how can we define what law is? Law is a regulation or criterion to control or contain the actions of selfish people. Laws are a necessity if selfish people are to live together. Whether for an individual, group, or nation, the law sets limits and prohibits people from violating their minimal social responsibility. On the other hand, no laws are needed between people who naturally live their lives for the sake of others in a totally unselfish and devoted way. Have you ever heard of a law regulating people who are sincerely devoted to service? Humanity is supposed to be liberated from the law eventually. You must become people who do not require laws on the levels of the individual, group, nation, and even the world.

To live above the law you must become an unselfish person; then your outlook is not limited by your own selfish purpose. When you become a person who is determined to live for the highest cause, for the sake of the world, then you will be liberated from the need for all levels of law below that cause. When you become the type of person about whom people can say, "He does not live for himself. He lives for God," then you are indeed a great and fearless person.

Let Us Think Once More
June 12, 1977

Martha, Mary, and Jesus: Practical and “Impractical” Service 
  • The Bible tells us about Jesus’ relationship with two sisters, Martha and Mary (Luke 10: 38 – 42).
  • The sisters lived in Bethany, outside of Jerusalem (John 11:1).   
  • Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, was their brother (John 11:1).
  • This family was very close to Jesus. 
  • John 11:5 says that “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” 
  • Martha was a very practical, down-to-earth person. 
  • Mary was more impractical—more spiritual. 
  • Being very practical, Martha felt free to speak up very frankly to Jesus at times.  
  • One time, Martha opened her house to Jesus and his disciples (Luke 10: 38). 
  • Martha busily prepared food and drink, but Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to him (Luke 10:39).
  • Martha got frustrated with her sister’s lack of service (Luke 10:40). 
  • Martha went right up to Jesus and said, frankly. “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40). 
  • Martha must have felt pretty at ease with Jesus to speak to him so frankly. 
  • Jesus answered her with the familiarity of a friend: “Martha, Martha,” he said (Luke 10:41). “You are worried and upset about many things but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41 – 42).  
  • In other words, Mary was serving the Lord every bit as much—even more so—than Martha.
  • The priority was to pay attention to Jesus and his teachings. That was the most important act of service at that time—attendance to the Lord’s teachings. 
  • Another example of Martha’s practicality is when her brother Lazarus died.
  • Jesus told Martha, “Your brother will rise again” (John 11:23). 
  • Practical-minded Martha said, carefully, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection of the last day” (John 11:24). 
  • But Jesus was not speaking practically. 
  • He told her: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11: 25-26).
  • Martha was practical, but she had great faith too. 
  • She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (John 11:27). 
  • At the same time, she couldn’t escape her practical mind. 
  • When Jesus told people to roll away the stone from Lazarus’s tomb, Martha protested. 
  • She told Jesus that Lazarus had been in the tomb four days. 
  • “By this time, he stinketh,” she told Jesus (John 11:39 KJV). 
  • Good old practical Martha. 
  • But Jesus reminded Martha that he had told her if she believed, she would see the glory of God (John 11:40).
  • He reminded her of the power of spiritual things over physical things. 
  • So, they rolled away the stone, and Jesus said, “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43)
  • It’s a spooky story. Out of the depths of tomb, Lazarus came out, all dressed in burial clothes, with his jaw tied up with a bandage. 
  • Unsurprisingly, the people who had come to the tomb all believed in Jesus after that (John 11:45). 
  • But why had they come to the tomb?
  • It was because they had followed Mary there. 
  • Apparently, Mary was liked and respected by her neighbors, because when they saw her going to the tomb, they followed her there (John 11:31). 
  • So, for all her impracticality, Mary did what disciples of Jesus are supposed to do: she brought others to him and led them into faith. 
  • Both Mary and Martha had deep faith in Jesus.
  • They were his followers and friends. 
  • They represent two types of service: practical and “impractical” (spiritual). 
  • They both show, in their own ways, examples of the kind of services we are to perform.
  • As Dr. Yong told us, if you can’t witness or do more spiritual work, go ahead and clean the church, help with meal preparation, lick envelopes, serve in some way. 
  • We can be Mary or Martha or a combination of both. 

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