4/3/11 Numbers 34-36; Mark 11
S: Mark 11:17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers."
O: The market was set up in the Court of the Gentiles. Judaism was supposed to be an evangelistic faith, showcasing the worship of the One True God to the world. So the Temple was not supposed to be just for Jews, but also for Gentiles to come and be attracted to God.
However, the Jews of Jesus’ day had so low an opinion of evangelism that they turned the Court of the Gentiles into a marketplace. So a Gentile going there would not have any way to worship, but would be confronted with a noisy marketplace instead.
No wonder Jesus was so upset. The House was no longer a house of prayer for the nations, only for the Jews, and a marketplace outside.
A: The Church is not supposed to be an exclusive club for saints, but rather, a hospital for sinners. We need to be welcoming of those unlike ourselves.
Oh yes, we as Evangelical Christians are often welcoming of non-Christians who come to visit our churches... as long as they’re People Like Us. But what happens if someone Different comes in?
When I was a student in Singapore, there was this one poor person who always came to Bedok Methodist Church, who was always unwashed and stinky. I remember avoiding him. Fortunately, there were other Christians who welcomed him.
In one church, we had a number of ladies who were very spirited in helping single mothers. As a result, our nice middle-classed English-speaking Chinese Malaysian church was invaded by a gaggle of poor Tamils. Many snide comments were made, and suggestions that they be sent off to some Tamil church instead. The lady in charge of the ministry to the single mothers was rightly upset by these remarks.
P: Father, help us break down our prejudices against “Gentiles” – people who are not like us – and recognize that we are called to be ambassadors for Christ to everyone.