Devotional Word for Monday, April 6, 2020
Today is the beginning of Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. Jesus spent the entire week in Jerusalem. Though He slept at night outside the city, each day he was in Jerusalem. Each day this week we will consider some part of what Jesus’ activities were on that day of Holy Week. We begin with Monday.
Jesus went to the temple complex on Monday. It was an enclosed area of about 35 acres. It included the temple proper, but also many other facilities, from teaching or gathering areas – think of Solomon’s portico where we know Jesus taught sometimes [John 10:23] and the disciples also did in the book of Acts [Acts 3:11; 5:12] – to places where you could exchange Roman coins for Israeli Shekels and booths where you could purchase animals to sacrifice. It was a very large complex.
Here’s how Matthew describes what took place: Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it into a robbers’ den. Well, that caused a commotion you can bet!
What was Jesus upset about? He objected to the commercializing of the temple area for reasons of profit. For instance, money changers might take your Roman coin worth 5 dollars and give you 3 dollars’ worth of Israeli Shekels. Roman coins were not accepted for offerings in the Temple. You had to have Shekels. They did a brisk, profitable business changing your money.
Those selling doves were in the same situation. If you were at the Temple and still needed an animal to sacrifice, they had you over a barrel. A dove that you could purchase for 1 dollar elsewhere might cost you 4 dollars at the Temple. In today’s terms, it would be like the prices charged for food at airports or professional sports events: a huge rip-off!
How is that applicable to us today? A simple question will help us find out: what do you consider most profitable? The answer you give will show where you heart is. Many of us today think physical fitness is of great profit. We spend vast sums of money and lots of time to make certain we’re physically fit. The Bible speaks to this issue. Paul, writing to Timothy says, discipline yourself for purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. [1 Tim. 4:7-8]
Of course, money comes to mind also. In that same letter to Timothy, Paul later speaks of those who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. He goes on to tell Timothy godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. Why? Here’s the truth we must know: we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. [1 Tim. 6:5-7] There is a mindset that is primarily focused on concerns of this world and cannot see much value in the world to come.
Jesus taught about this in the parable of the man who planned to build bigger barns and who was not so much concerned about spiritual matters. Here’s what God tells that man: You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared? Sounds like Jesus in the Temple! After He finishes telling the parable, Jesus makes clear what He means to teach: So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. [Luke 12:20-21]
How might we be “rich” or “profitable” in God’s sight? Jesus indicated prayer was not a priority for those he drove out of the temple complex. We should consider the value we place on prayer. That’s one way.
Here’s another place where the word “profitable” is used. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. [2 Tim. 3:16-17] We need to value the Scripture and read it regularly.
One other use of the word “profitable” occurs in Scripture. It is in Titus 3:8. Here’s what it says, This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.
On Monday of Holy Week, Jesus wanted people to refocus their lives. He wanted to break the hold of material things on their lives, and have them raise their minds to God. He wanted them to understand and live in the truth that God is the One we must love and serve above all other things. That is, after all, the great and foremost commandment. Let us pray: O God, You are our God, and we will ever seek You.May we value You above all earthly concerns. Help us take time to read Your Word. Help us take time to pray. Of all that is profitable to us, those are the most profitable. We want to be rich towards You. We are thankful for all our daily provisions: life, home, food, clothing. But we even more want the love of God to be richly spread abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.