Ecclesiastes 8:8–15, Psalm 51, Mark 11:12–18
When the writer of Ecclesiastes notes that no one has authority over the wind, he had no concept of the wind power generation farms we have. We may have harnessed the wind to provide power for us, but we have no authority over it. We put the wind farms where the wind goes. We don’t build our wind farms and tell the wind where to go. The writer of Ecclesiastes, though, is really referring to the rich and powerful who act as if they have all the control and power. Often we play right into the hands of the powerful, just as the powerful do for each other. As the writer of Ecclesiastes notes, the rich and powerful people go in and out of the temple with people praising them. Because of how the rich and powerful got there, all their praise and worship is worth absolutely nothing.
The Psalmist speaks to the reality of this empty praise when he writes about God not wanting sacrifice or burnt offerings, but humble people. The rich and powerful praised on their way back from the temple were (generally) not there for worship.
When Jesus comes and clears the temple, the rich and powerful have set up a system that keeps people from praising God as prescribed. Think of tourist traps. The burger might cost $15 there, but $6 at home. That is what is going on in the temple. When Jesus accuses the priests and moneychangers of being thieves, it is because they have added on a huge cost that negatively affected people. They filled the temple courts with something that didn’t belong.
Are you expecting or planning something that doesn’t belong in the courts of the house of God?
1) People leave (or go to) churches for reasons that often have nothing to do with God. Have you ever done so?
2) What things do you think should be cleared out of church? Now, is it because it actually is a barrier between people and God, or is it because it is something that you are not familiar or comfortable with?
3) Do you think the powerful learned anything from Jesus’ actions in the temple? Why or why not?