The Passion of Christ in the Gospel of Luke
A Guide to Meditation and Prayer
Week 2 - Day 2
The Cleansing Savior
Cleansing the Temple
Meditation on Scripture- Read Luke 19:45-48 and write your reflections in the workbook. Use the summary below for further reflection on the passage. Prayer- Use the Guide for Prayer.
Luke tells briefly about Jesus cleansing the temple. This was an important action by Jesus, a kind of purification of the people’s worship that had become corrupt. The commercialization of temple worship may not have been all that was lacking in the worship life of the people but it served as a symbol of the need for reform. Jesus quoted from the Old Testament to point out what was missing. Prayer was to be at the heart of worship. Their lack of prayer was the symptom that their worship had become about ritual, not faith, love, and gratitude. It did not serve to bring them closer to the living God.
Part of the role of Jesus, as the Messiah, was to purify the people’s worship. Because Christ fulfilled the Old Testament laws, worship would no longer focus on ritual sacrifices but worship from the heart. Jesus said, in John 4, that the hour was coming and had arrived when those who worshipped God would worship him, not at any particular place, but in spirit and in truth. The Father, Jesus said, sought people who would do so.
Jesus’ act of cleansing the temple would certainly have infuriated the religious leaders. Luke says that they were trying to destroy Jesus because of this and many other things. The level of hostility had risen to such a height, from the religious leaders’ point of view, that only the death of Jesus would resolve the conflict. They were frustrated in their efforts to get rid of Jesus however because the people were captivated by his teachings.
In the Bible God specifies his worship. That is, he tells the people how they should worship him and what things should and should not be part of worship. For example, the people were not to offer him “strange fire” that he had not stipulated (Leviticus 10:1). In the New Testament, God again specified how he wished to be worshipped; it was through his Son. All who would come to the Father must do so through the Son, for so the Father has ordained.
Things to Consider –
· Most churches strive to keep out extraneous things that distract from worship. Worship services tend to focus on scripture, songs, sermons, prayers, and fellowship. They may also include offerings, greetings, and acts of dedication. How does your church’s worship service help you draw close to God? When in it do you most feel like you are worshipping?
· In your church worship service, when are you most able to pray? Would you be better able to engage in worship if you came better prepared, more expectant, more rested? What hinders your worship?
· See if you can attend church worship this week with an especially open heart.
· The New Testament says that we are temples of God because God’s Holy Spirit lives in us. How does that make you feel?
· If Christ were to cleanse the temple of your life, what would it entail? Would it make you angry if he wanted to do so? Do you feel like your life is your domain and Christ should stay out of it?
· What difference has Jesus made in how you understand God and worship God?
· Is your life a “house of prayer?” If not, why not? What would it take for it to become one?
· Through these meditations, do you find yourself “hanging on Christ’s words” more than you used to?
Guide for Prayer -
· Close your eyes and take one full minute to calm your mind and gather your spirit.
· In the words of the New Testament (I Corinthians 3:16), you have become a “temple” of God because the Holy Spirit lives in you. Reflect on this and thank God for it.
· Ask God to give you his Holy Spirit and allow you to be more aware of his presence and work in your life.
· Reflect on the following verse. “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me.” (Psalm 51:10) Where do you need a clean heart and a right spirit? Confess any sins that come to mind and ask God to give you a clean heart and spirit.
· Are there wounds in your life that need healing? Ask Christ to apply his healing balm. Imagine those wounds being opened up so God can apply the healing salve of his Holy Spirit.
· Prayer to our Heavenly Father – Gracious Father, forgive us when we turn good things into bad. Help me be better prepared the next time I go to worship. Help me learn to worship you rightly when I gather with your people.
· Prayer to the Son – Loving Savior, do your work of cleansing in my heart, but gently lest I get discouraged.
· Prayer to the Holy Spirit – Holy Spirit, remind me that I am your temple. Make me pure of heart and teach me to love what you love.
· Praise God for his forgiveness, goodness, and love for you. Lift up your heart and spirit to him in praise and worship.
· Take some moments to offer your own prayers to God. Offer whatever prayers and praises seem appropriate.