Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!“
The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.”
But the leaders were indignant. They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?”
“Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.’” Then he returned to Bethany, where he stayed overnight.
In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.
The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?”
Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”
When Jesus returned to the Temple and began teaching, the leading priests and elders came up to him. They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?”
“I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,” Jesus replied. “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?”
They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask us why we didn’t believe John. But if we say it was merely human, we’ll be mobbed because the people believe John was a prophet.” So they finally replied, “We don’t know.”
And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things. But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. 30 Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go. Which of the two obeyed his father?”
They replied, “The first.”
Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.
“Now listen to another story. A certain landowner planted a vineyard, built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. At the time of the grape harvest, he sent his servants to collect his share of the crop. But the farmers grabbed his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. So the landowner sent a larger group of his servants to collect for him, but the results were the same.
“Finally, the owner sent his son, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’
“But when the tenant farmers saw his son coming, they said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Come on, let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ So they grabbed him, dragged him out of the vineyard, and murdered him.
“When the owner of the vineyard returns,” Jesus asked, “what do you think he will do to those farmers?”
The religious leaders replied, “He will put the wicked men to a horrible death and lease the vineyard to others who will give him his share of the crop after each harvest.”
Then Jesus asked them, “Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.’ I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit. Anyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.”
When the leading priests and Pharisees heard this parable, they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers. They wanted to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowds, who considered Jesus to be a prophet.
#1 v13 – “The Scriptures declare…”
Isaiah 56:7 – I will bring them also to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices, because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations.
Jeremiah 7:11 – Do you think this Temple, which honors my name, is a den of thieves? I see all the evil going on there, says the LORD.
#2 v16 – “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures?”
Psalm 8:2 – You have taught children and nursing infants to give you praise. They silence your enemies who were seeking revenge.
#3 v42 – “Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures?”
Psalm 118:22-23 – The stone rejected by the builders has now become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing, and it is marvelous to see.
Follow the pattern 1,2,3.
The Temple’s reputation:
It is “Called…”
#1 – A place of prayer/healing
#2 – A place of praise/rejoicing
The Temple’s design and construction:
Aligned upon –
#3 – The Cornerstone
Jesus clears the Temple.
YOU ARE THE TEMPLE.
The disciples had no clue what Jesus was illustrating until the day the Holy Spirit came and began to reveal His view of His Body. The Temple meant many things to them but that it was a pre-view of what God was going to do in each believer, was not one of them.
The house He is building, His house, is to be called (known to be) a house of prayer. WE ARE THAT HOUSE.
“To be called a house of prayer.” Called – by whom?
At first, it sounds like both Jesus in Matthew and God in Isaiah are referring to a public reputation. But when we take into consideration the lack of discernment that even “the builders” have (they rejected the Cornerstone!), we can’t assume that the public will ever really have a correct assessment of what’s going on. The same lips spoke, “There’s only one good.” God’s assessment is the only one Jesus regards as valid.
The house of prayer is me and the One to call me a house of prayer is the only One who would know for sure, my God and Saviour, Jesus.