how much Christ disapproves all irreverent behavior in the house of God

We see, for one thing, in this passage, how much Christ disapproves all irreverent behavior in the house of God.

We are told that He drove out of the temple those whom He found selling oxen and sheep and doves within its walls – that He poured out the changers’ money and overthrew their tables – and that He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” On no occasion in our Lord’s earthly ministry do we find Him acting so energetically and exhibiting such righteous indignation as on the occasion now before us. Nothing seems to have called from Him such a marked display of holy wrath as the gross irreverence, which the priests permitted in the temple, notwithstanding all their boasted zeal for God’s law. Twice, it will be remembered, He discovered the same profanation of His Father’s house going on within three years, once at the beginning of His ministry and once at the end. Twice we see Him expressing his displeasure in the strongest terms. “The thing is doubled” in order to impress a lesson more strongly on our minds.

The passage is one that ought to raise deep searchings of heart in many quarters. Are there none who profess and call themselves Christians, behaving every Sunday just as badly as these Jews? Are there none who secretly bring into the house of God their money, their lands, their houses, their cattle, and a whole train of worldly affairs? Are there none who bring their bodies only into the place of worship and allow their hearts to wander into the ends of the earth? Are there none who are “almost in all evil, in the midst of the congregation?” (Proverbs 5:14). These are serious questions! Multitudes, it may be feared, could not give them a satisfactory answer. Christian churches and chapels, no doubt, are very unlike the Jewish temple. They are not built after a divine pattern. They have no altars or holy places. Their furniture has no typical meaning. But they are places where God’s word is read, and where Christ is specially present. The man who professes to worship in them should surely behave with reverence and respect. The man who brings his worldly matters with him when he professes to worship is doing that which is evidently most offensive to Christ. The words which Solomon wrote by the Holy Spirit are applicable to all times, “Watch thy feet when thou goest to the house of God” (Ecclesiastes 5:1).

—J.C. Ryle

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