Jesus Cleanses and Reclaims Holy Places
The week before the ultimate sacrifice would be made by Jesus, He triumphantly entered the city of Jerusalem, fulfilling prophecy and proclaiming by the act for all who had eyes to see that He was in fact the Messiah they had been waiting for. His very next act was to cleanse the temple and reclaim it as His own, a sacred place for all to worship. This was the second recorded occurrence of Christ cleansing the temple.
During the shutdown of Covid I had such a strong desire to spend some time in the temple. I yearned for the peace, the enlightenment, and the lifting of my burdens I have always felt in the temple. It was the first time in my life and perhaps in modern history that the temple was off limits and I felt the absence profoundly in my life.
One day when I was feeling this deep sense of loss, I decided that time on the grounds might bring some peace to my soul. When I got there, the grounds were also locked. So, I walked 4 times around the city block and 3 times outside the fence inside the parking lot.
As I walked my outer path, I noticed beauty of the temple walls mingled with the noise of the traffic on the streets. As I walked my inner route I observed the beauty of the paths, fountains and flowers surrounding the temple. As I pondered, I remembered so clearly a time when I could not hold a recommend but spent hours inside the temple in the waiting room studying, praying, feeling the potency of the Spirit, and receiving profound answers to my most weighing questions. Finally, I was drawn through my memory up the stairs to the celestial room where I have spent time filled with light, joy, and so much peace.
As my mind wound around these memories a certain story of Jesus settled powerfully on my mind. You know the one. In great frustration He braided a rope and drove the moneychangers from the temple. This story gets a lot of attention and the focus seems to be about His emotions rather than His motives. I remember the time I learned the different parts of Solomon’s Temple and how it helped me better understand this story.
The Herodian Temple had segregated courts for specific people. There was the court of the priests, the court of the Israelites, the court of the women, and the court of the gentiles. This last court is where Christ accused the people of defiling the temple. This court was one where everyone was welcome regardless of status, gender, or religion.
This understanding has made this story one of my favorites. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, cared so much about every single child of God (regardless of their personal restrictions) that the ability for this court to remain a sacred space for communion with God mattered to Him. He wanted ALL to have the right to worship in peace.
It was hard not to have the availability of the temple in a way that I definitely took for granted. But maybe the inconvenience of not having the inner parts of the temple available during that time gave me a deeper appreciation of the peace, enlightenment, and a lifting of my burdens the temple offers, with a wonderful reminder that every bit of the grounds are sacred and the promises made to us about the temple are still available for receiving even if all we could do then was spend time in the “court of the gentiles.”
Over the years, as I have contemplated the different areas of the temples as places of worship and how important they were to Christ, so much that He would act boldly to retake them, I have also thought about how the scriptures tell us that we are each a temple of God. There is always a fight between good and evil for our souls. Satan would love for us as a temple of God to become corrupt and unwilling to be sanctified by the Lord. I know that I sometimes allow the dirt of the world to creep into parts of me that make me feel unholy and unclean. These things can cause me to be distracted from my relationship with God.
They can keep me from being able to connect with Him and commune with Him, like the moneychangers and animal sales did for the people in the court of the gentiles. But just as Christ came in and cleansed the temple removing these distractions, He can and wants to do the same thing for us in our lives. As we intentionally and conscientiously put on the Armor of God we are inviting Him into our own personal temple and asking for His help in keeping it clean and holy and reclaiming those parts we may have momentarily lost.
What parts of your temple are in need of Christ’s attention? Will you invite Him in to cleanse and reclaim them?
The Primary Manual for Come Follow Me is perfect for families with young children!
May week 3: Behold, Thy King Cometh May 15–21. Matthew 21–23; Mark 11; Luke 19–20; John 12: “Behold, Thy King Cometh” (churchofjesuschrist.org)
Click on the images below to print out these FREE coloring pages from Rising Moon Adventures that I created to go with this lesson:
Primary Insights for Come Follow Me videos –
Song 1: Grace Wins by Matthew West
Song 2: Temple by Brandon Lake