+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Opening: (A Collect for Sabbath Rest – Saturday)
Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and set aside a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared to meet you in worship, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Morning Reading: Matthew 21:12-27 (NLT)
Jesus Clears the Temple
Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”
The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.”
But the leaders were indignant. They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?”
“Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.’” Then he returned to Bethany, where he stayed overnight.
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.
The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?”
Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”
The Authority of Jesus Challenged
When Jesus returned to the Temple and began teaching, the leading priests and elders came up to him. They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?”
“I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,” Jesus replied. “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?”
They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask us why we didn’t believe John. But if we say it was merely human, we’ll be mobbed because the people believe John was a prophet.” they finally replied, “We don’t know.”
And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.
Are you a House of Prayer?
‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”
…The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them.
– Matthew 21:13-14 –
Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem was specific to the circumstances that he found there at the time. The religious leaders had allowed the Temple of the Most High God to become a “den of thieves.” They had desecrated holy space that had been consecrated for worship and prayer, by turning it into a market place. But once cleansed, the Temple once again became a place of hope and healing under the authority of Jesus.
Sometimes believers forget who we are, or rather whose we are – we belong to God and our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit through which we must honor God. (1 Cor 6:18-20) And we too, cleansed and forgiven, can become instruments of God’s hope and healing under the authority of Jesus.
Questions for consideration:
- Step back for a moment and try to view yourself as Jesus might view you – body, mind and spirit. Would you be considered a temple of the Holy Spirit? Why/why not? Please explain.
- If there is some cleansing/forgiving to do in your life that would make you more serviceable to God? What would it be? Please explain.
- What would it take for you to become an instrument of God’s hope and healing under the authority of Jesus? Please explain.
Morning Prayer: For the Spirit of Prayer –
O Almighty God, you pour out on all who desire it the spirit of grace and of supplication: Deliver us, when we draw near to you, from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind, that with steadfast thoughts and kindled affections we may worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“House of Prayer” – Eddie James
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen