Matthew 21:13

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Matthew 21:13.

“He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:13

After Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He entered the Temple and was not happy with what He saw. “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.” Matthew 21:12. The purpose was to drive out the merchants, who in cooperation with the priests cheated visitors to Jerusalem by forcing them to purchase approved sacrificial animals and currencies at high prices. What would happen is that people would be told their sacrifice was not worthy to be offered in the temple, and thus would be sold another deemed acceptable for a high price along with the offering brought to them, which many times they would sell to another at a high price. For example, it was not unusual for a dove to be sold in the temple for 15 to 20 times what could be purchased elsewhere. “

This was a serious issue for Jesus, which is shown by what He did. He drove out those who bought and sold wrongly in the temple and overturned the tables and chairs of those who cheated the people. And our focus verse clearly shows why He was angry. “He said to them, It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:13. He is quoting Isaiah here. “And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it and holds fast my covenant. these I will bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Isaiah 56:6-7. Isaiah calls the Temple a house of prayer for all people, not just Jews. However, the Jewish leadership used it as a place to cheat the people by stealing from those who came to give their sacrifice to God.  

After this, many came to Jesus in the Temple. “And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.” Matthew 21:14. The bold action of Jesus when He drove out the merchants and money changers from the temple courts did not discourage the needy from coming to Him. The blind and the lame were restricted to the court of the Gentiles; they could not go closer to the temple and could not go to the altar to sacrifice. After purging the court of the Gentiles of merchants and robbers, Jesus then ministered to the outcasts who congregated there. He did the work of the Messiah, a significant part of which was showing the power of God in the context of compassion and mercy to those who so needed this. 

We do not have the temple today, but we do have Churches where the Body of Christ meet to praise God, hear needed teachings, pray together, and in all ways lifting each other up. We must never, whether we are leaders or not, take advantage of anyone for our own benefit. We should never limit good things and deeds to only those who donate up to certain expectation. And we should never deceive anyone into giving with promises we will or cannot deliver. God, in no way approves of this. Paul laid this our clearly. “and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.” 1 Thessalonians 4:6. Today, church is a place for ‘the Church’ to honor God, giving Him praise and worship as well as growing our knowledge such that we build up our faith. It is not for anyone to take advantage of anyone for his/her own advantage and gain. I believe God abhors this, and will, as the above verse shows, avenge those who take part in these things.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Luke 10:36

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Luke 10:36   

“Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” – Luke 10:36

This question was asked by Jesus to a lawyer who had previously asked the question, “Who is my neighbor?”  A lawyer as described here is different than our modern-day lawyers.  Both are experts in the Law, however,  to first century Jewish lawyers it referred to the Mosaic Law. They essentially fulfilled the same role as a Scribe.

So it starts by this lawyer asking Jesus a question. “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 10:25.  Notice the words in verse 21, “to put Him to the test”.  He was not asking Jesus because he wanted to learn something, but to confuse Him, wanting Jesus to, if possible, to contradict some of the requirements of the Law.  However, Jesus did not fall for it and answered him with two questions.  “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” Luke 10:26b. The lawyer then answers as you would expect as a teacher of the Mosaic Law.  “And he answered, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  Deuteronomy 6:4, Leviticus 19:18.  “And he said to him, You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” Luke 10:28.  “But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29.  The lawyer wanted to let Jesus know he was a righteous man and always kept the Law, just as a lawyer would do. 

Jesus answers this with a parable which tells the story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho.  This man was robbed of all he had, including his clothing and was beaten nearly to death.  Along comes a priest who showed no love or compassion for the man by failing to help him and passing on the other side of the road so as not to get involved. The next person to pass by is a Levite who does exactly what the priest did: he passes by without showing any compassion. These are two people who would have known the law, but they chose not to follow it. 

Finally a Samaritan comes by, the one least likely to have helped him in the Lawyers eyes, because they were considered a low class of people by the Jews.  There is no indication as to whether the victim was a Jew of Gentile, but it made no difference to the Samaritan.  He saw only a person in dire need of assistance, and assist him he did, above and beyond the minimum required. He dresses the man’s wounds with wine (to disinfect) and oil (to sooth the pain). He puts the man on his animal and takes him to an inn for a time of healing and pays the innkeeper with his own money. He then goes beyond common decency and tells the innkeeper to take good care of the man, and he would pay for any extra expenses on his return trip.  Jesus then asked the Lawyer a question, as found in out our focus verse, which  disarmed his prejudice.   “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?“ Luke 10:36.  And honestly he had to answer, “He said, The one who showed him mercy. And Jesus said to him, You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:37. 

The Lawyer’s prejudice would not permit him to name the Samaritan, yet his conscience obliged him to acknowledge that he was the only righteous person of the three.  Jesus told him to be even as those whom he despised because they did the right thing, whereas those who were of his people did not.  However, his “Jewish” prejudice would not permit him to name the Samaritan, but there was no impropriety, even in his view, in saying that the man who showed so much mercy was really the neighbor to the afflicted, and not he who professed to be his neighbor but who would do nothing to help.   

The major thought here is that our neighbor is anyone we come across, just as the Samaritan came across the man on the side of the road.  It does not matter if we know them or not, if they are kind to us or a part of a group that believes contrary to our beliefs or has contempt for us and our views.  We are called to love everyone, no matter what.  We are to love as Jesus loved; to love everyone no matter who they are or what they have ever done.  If someone is in need, do what is necessary to help them.  Shake off all prejudices and love as Jesus did.  And if we can show the love we have, we can then make a difference in their lives that can bring them to Christ, or if already a Christian show them what this Christian life is truly all about. 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.