John 2:15-17 –
Jesus defends prayer, and shows some force. The commerce happening in the temple was nothing more than a distraction, a form of idolatry based on God’s Love but perverted to commerce. Notice that in the later verses, Jesus predicts his death and resurrection but uses the word temple with the religious leaders. As usual, they are blinded and cannot understand Jesus, because they do not want to.
The religious leaders knew of the coming Messiah and rather than look for a Messiah God ordained and planned for, they instead, fashioned an idol of political nature. As though God would bring a new King David in its old form to knock down Roman rule, diminish poverty as Solomon may have. The religious leaders had one basic problem, pride. The Jewish leaders believed that no matter what God’s plan was, they would remain in leadership. They assumed that they would be in right relationship with the Messiah when He came and they would be like-minded.
When our prayer lives become distorted with commerce, with requests of materialism and retention of pride, we are asking Jesus to turn over our tables.
Imagine meeting with a friend for dinner or coffee and as soon as you sit down, you lay your phone down playing the latest mood music, you pull out a list of needs and begin a one way conversation. You plead with your friend to answer these needs, grab his hand, begin to cry when you feel like you are not connecting. You then tell him how bad you feel about yourself and how it must be that I am not good enough for you today. Once done with all these personal requests, you then proceed to “lift” up the needs of the people you know but turns into a session about what you believe everyones problem is. You then get up, hoping he would pay for the coffee, shut off the music, cross this moment off your to do list and walk away.
Seems trite and insulting to both you and the friend since you know where I am headed with this. This is what we can find ourselves doing daily. We are sitting with Jesus, the very Son of God and it looks like we need our table tossed, our coffee spilled, our thoughts renewed. A relationship of this type could never last.