Lessons learned from the life of Jesus – Jesus Clears the Temple

This is the first in a series of articles on financial and other issues facing the American church in this no longer very new millennium. These articles represent the personal thoughts and reflections of the author and are not necessarily a statement of The Idlewild Foundation. These articles are based upon parables told by Jesus and stories from the gospels on events in His life, applying His life and teachings to the lives of believers and to the church as a whole and not to any one church in particular.

The American church has some problems. Well, duh!

In this country we are rapidly approaching being a post-Christian nation, assuming we are not already there. In my view, with special “thanks” to the last 10-12 years, we have arrived at that status in much of the country – God is still very relevant, and He is still God – but too many people don’t know it.

Lessons for the church and for believers

Jesus drove out the money changers and sellers of livestock who were abusing the Temple with their businesses:

John 2:13-16
13     When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14     In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.
15     So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.
16     To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”

There were good reasons for that harsh action, reasons to be discussed in next month. But one point that can be made easily is that those same reasons exist in many churches nd many places of worship and no one reacts. Should we react? Well, if we are going to walk as Jesus did, the answer to that question seems obvious.

Let’s look at a few facts that need to be raced from a Biblical point of view. Does the Bible have any lessons for the American church? Many, and here are just a few.

Lesson #1 – Truth is still truth even when people don’t know it

Peter and the apostles proclaimed this truth repeatedly. See Acts 5:27-40 where they demonstrated it and were flogged for the truth. Stephen demonstrated truth as well in Acts 8, but his demonstration cost him his life.

In Acts 5 Peter and the apostles faced persecution for preaching Jesus.

Acts 5:27-33, 40-42
27  The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest.
28  “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”
29  Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!
30  The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross.
31  God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins.
32  We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
33  When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death.

(Gamaliel’s speech against further persecution)

40  His [Gamaliel’s] speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
41  The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.
42  Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

Stephen’s lengthy speech in Acts 7 can be read at your leisure here, but in summary, Stephen preached the truth and could not be stopped (except by murder).

We face challenges in this post-Christian society, such as the challenges of anti-discrimination laws that elevate gender choice to that of a fundamental civil right even above religious expression, see the story of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, and a society increasingly hostile to the gospel and to Christianity. For Masterpiece there appears to have been a happy story and the legal proceedings were abandoned by the state of Colorado in early 2019, but likely the hostility will continue.

The answer of some churches to social pressure is to dumb down the message or the Bible – some even re-write it. Others have addressed the issued harshly without love. I Corinthians 13:1-3. Neither is speaking the truth that is in Jesus.

The truth remains the truth. The church can’t allow social pressure to push it into Biblical sin. Over 60 years ago, A.W. Tozer preached these words:

“This is the day of excusing sin instead of purging sin. An entire school of thought has developed justifying sin within the church and trying to prove that sin is perfectly normal, and therefore acceptable.”

He preached that before the 1950’s. What he said is immeasurably more true today.

Instead, sin of all sorts must be seen for what it is and must be addressed. 1 Corinthians 5:1. We all sin, but the call is for us to repent and turn from it. 1 John 1:8-10. The call of the church must be against all sin, not just select ones, and the response of the church to sin must be Biblical and spiritual, not emotional and harsh.
But the key is that the truth remains the truth regardless of whether some, many, most, or even all people reject it. John 14:6.

Next month we will touch upon the rest of the lessons and get ready to look at one of the hearts of the problem, “Why do so many people avoid or leave the church and instead seek either their own brand of “spirituality” or none at all?” These are the people who identify their faith as “none” in the twenty-first century polls, and they are a rapidly growing number. We need to know why to address that loss.

About the Author

John Campbell has retired from a 40-year legal practice as a trial attorney in Tampa. He has served in multiple volunteer roles at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, where he met Jesus.  He began serving as the Executive Director of the Idlewild Foundation in 2016.  He has been married to the love of his life, Mona Puckett Campbell, since 1972.