Daily Reading

A feed containing today's WordLive Session.
  1. Prepare

    What grieves you? What angers you? Would these things grieve or anger God? Do your deepest longings echo God’s desires?

  2. Bible passage: Matthew 21:12–17

    Jesus at the Temple
     12Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13"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.'"

     14The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant.

     16"Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him.
          "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read,
       " 'From the lips of children and infants
          you have ordained praise'?"

     17And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

  3. Explore

    An angry Jesus
    Today we encounter an angry Jesus. First, he shows his fury in the Temple (vs 12,13); then he curses a tree (vs 18,19)! Both incidents are enacted parables.

    Temple-cleansing
    The ‘Temple area’ (v 12) refers to the Court of the Gentiles, where ‘foreigners’ could join themselves to the covenant people in worshipping Israel’s God. Jesus surely yearned for the fulfillment of Isaiah 56:7, to see the Temple serving as ‘a house of prayer for all nations’ (v 13). His anger burns when, instead, he finds profiteering merchants and money-lenders crowding this area, effectively hindering Gentiles from drawing near to God. The Temple-cleansing (v 12) isn’t just a denunciation of corruption, but points to a greater truth – the Temple itself is due for replacement (see John 2:19–21).

    Tree-cursing
    The next day’s tree-cursing is neither random nor unrelated. The fig tree, lush with leaves, carried a promise of fruit – yet it turned out to be an empty promise (v 19). ‘Hungry’ (v 18) for fruits of righteousness, Jesus was justifiably angry because, despite exhibiting the outward marks of religion, Israel yielded nothing more than barren legalism, ritualism and ceremonialism. The immediate withering of the tree (v 19b) warns of impending judgement upon unfruitful Israel.

    Tanya Ferdinandusz
  4. Respond

    Paul warns against ‘having a form of godliness but denying its power’ (2 Timothy 3:5). Is your faith limited to a ‘form’ of words or rituals? Or is it a flourishing, fruitful faith?

  5. Deeper Bible study

    As the crowds entered Jerusalem, Jesus proceeded to the Temple, the centre of national and religious life. In the outermost Court of the Gentiles, money changers were exchanging (at a fee) unacceptable currency for high-grade silver coins required by every Jew to pay their annual Temple tax. Nearby were traders, selling, at considerable profit, unblemished animals and birds for the obligatory sacrifices to accompany the Temple rituals required after childbirth, healing or forgiveness of sin. The noise, smell and commotion made any attempt at prayer almost impossible. Yet this was the only place where Gentiles could pray and seek communion with the God of Israel. 

    No doubt the marketplace noise carried through to the Court of the Women, into which all Jews (except those with disabilities) could enter, and further into the Court of the Israelites where Temple services were conducted in which men could participate.1 What was supposed to be a place of prayer and worship for all nations was no better than a den of robbers (Is 56:7; Jer 7:11). Jesus’ righteous indignation was not an aberration: he was claiming his rightful authority to deal with sin at the heart of his nation. By his death he would shortly open up the way for all nations to access the Father. This was a symbolic first step.

    Many from the crowds were still with him, no doubt observing his actions with delight! The excitement of their children had not dissipated; among the marketplace noise they continued shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’. This was more than the authorities could stomach. When they indignantly approached Jesus to reproach them, he questioned their knowledge of the Scriptures, recalling that children’s praise is always accepted (Ps 8:2). Jesus would not be bullied. Authority, justice and judgement are in his hands.

    1 William Barclay, Gospel of Matthew, Vol 2, p268–71 

    Sylvia Collinson
  6. Temple clean-up

    Every Passover Jerusalem was packed to capacity with pilgrims from far and wide. Part of the celebration entailed sacrificing animals. Traders set up animal pens and cages in the outer (‘Gentile’) court of the temple. Pilgrims bought animals or birds there. They would then hand these to the priests to offer as a sacrifice on their behalf.

    A temple tax was required by the Law of Moses (see Exodus 30:11–16; 38:26). It amounted to two days’ pay for a labourer and was payable only in the special kind of money used in the temple. Money changers exchanged other currencies into temple coinage.

    Jesus is outraged by these practices. First, they amount to ethnic discrimination. Gentile God-fearers and proselytes were left with no space to worship.

    Second, the traders were short-changing weak and vulnerable people in order to boost temple funds. The ‘house of prayer for all nations’ (see Isaiah 56:1–8; Mark 11:17) had become an exclusive club that ripped off its patrons.

    Jesus’ healing of the blind and lame (v 14) provides a ray of hope amidst an act of judgement. In effect, Jesus repeals the law prohibiting the disabled from serving in the temple (see Leviticus 21:16–23). In the kingdom of God neither disability nor race are handicaps.

    Fergus Macdonald
  7. Bible in a year

    Read the Bible in a year.

    Proverbs 19,20

    1 Thessalonians 2
  8. Podcast

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