One of the most highly circulated photos on the internet has been that of a child Adolf Hitler. The innocent and lovable appearance of one of history’s greatest villains is a jarring reminder that we all start out rather harmless and adorable. But as the world warps us into its pattern, we forget the naive, soft-hearted childlikeness that responds to real glory, real wonder, or real beauty with joy. It’s only when we’re no longer children that we “grow up” to be independently minded monsters, blind to the glory of God in our midst.
That is exactly what we see as Jesus enters the temple to cleanse it. The temple sits in the middle of the holy city like a closet cluttered with nostalgic hoarding, stuffed to the brim with romanticized memories of the “glory days.” But the scribes and priests who are presiding over it are blind to the presence of God as he arrives. The priests and scribes had proclaimed that this place was where God dwelt, and they insisted on it because their livelihood, influence, and authority depended upon it. With the expertise of Madison Avenue, they had pitched to the people of Israel that through rule-based righteousness and ritualism they could guarantee God’s favor in their lives and in their nation.
But Jesus’ righteous indignation interrupts their carefully crafted marketing campaign. God has arrived to reclaim His dwelling place among men, and it will no longer be cluttered by the corruptible motives of men. Jesus will provide a residence for God in the hearts of every man.
It is only the children who recognize what is going on. They cry: “Hosanna to the Son of David!” and interrupt the spin of the Sadducees. Bewildered by the scene, they turn to Jesus, “Do you hear what they are saying?!” And Jesus, without any hesitation, quotes a surprising Scripture: “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise.” (Psalm 8:2)
The pretentious posturing of these men had led to a very practical, profit-margin mindset that compromised what was supposed to be the very dwelling place of God. Comfortable in their places of privilege, they had overseen the progressive prostitution of the temple and the neglect of what God’s covenant truly meant. The Jews were busy buying and selling animals for sacrifice. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)
It is only when we adopt the simple honesty of a child that we can celebrate God as he cleanses the place of His dwelling. May we all take that same posture as we ask God to cleanse each of us of the things that cloud His presence in our lives.
LIVE THE STORY
Read Psalm 51:10-12, pray it for yourself and then pause to listen for the still small voice of God’s Spirit. Thank him for what he reveals to you, and share it with a trusted friend or family member.
By Ryan Lunde
Young Adults Pastor