Lesson 2: Holy Week
Devotion: Read Matthew 21:12-17. Jesus’ first stop after entering Jerusalem is the Temple. What he finds there makes him angry. “All who were selling and buying” refers to those selling sacrificial animals to pilgrims coming from around the world for Passover. Pilgrims are also required to make a financial offering, but they must use Jerusalem coinage rather than Roman currency. Those who sell animals and exchange money make profits, and the Temple receives a portion of that income. These commercial practices take place in the Court of the Gentiles, a location intended to provide a place of prayer for all people. These Temple practices conform to the religious standards of the day. Sadly, that tradition is corrupt. The priests are choosing profit over reaching out into the world. Why do we not discuss money and religion (along with politics) in mixed company? On what biblical principles should we draw when making a budget? How much of a church’s budget should be spent on members and their building(s)? What does Jesus’ anger teach us about worship?
Personal Worship Option: Read Psalm 26. What does God desire from you in worship? What do you need to do before worship begins (at home, at church, by yourself, with others, etc.) to give God honest worship and praise? What preparations should you make for worship to occur?
Dig A Little Deeper:
Read Matthew 21:18-19. How is the story of the fig tree a repeat of the events in the Temple?
21:12 Sacrifices are required for Jewish believers (Lev 5:7-19). Doves are offered by the poor who cannot afford to offer a larger animal.
21:13 Jesus quotes Isaiah 56:7 (inclusion of eunuchs and foreigners in the Temple) and Jeremiah 7:11 (a critique of Temple priests). Jesus is standing on firm scriptural ground. What are examples of modern Christians ignoring the clear tenets of the Bible? What justifications do we use?
Just as Jesus earlier asserted his authority over the Law (5:17-20; 12:1-14), now he asserts this authority over the Temple. This is a challenge to the two pillars of Judaism.
21:15 The religious leaders are not moved by the “amazing things he did.” To what extent does our receptivity to God’s presence prior to an event, teaching, or miracle determine whether we will be moved by the experience? If there is a correlation, how important are preparations we make prior to arriving at Church for worship?
21:16 The children continue to echo the words of the crowd from Jesus’ entry into the city (21:9). We are reminded of Jesus’ call for us to become like children (Mt 18:3)? What are the religious leaders missing that the children are not?
21:17 Jesus withdraws from the city after having only just arrived. Most likely this is to avoid any attack from the religious authorities until he determines the time for that encounter has come.