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Clearing the Path to God's Grace

“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant.”—Matthew 21:12-15

We just finished celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Perhaps your Facebook and Twitter feeds have been full of depictions of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, or awkward pictures of pastors dressed in monk attire wielding a hammer and the like. What they probably haven’t been full of is pictures of a wild-eyed Jesus, flipping over tables, and driving people out of the temple with a whip.

The heart of Reformation isn’t simply correcting error for the sake of rightness. It has to do with people and God. Its aim is uniting a rejected and miserable mass of sinners to a gracious and redemptive God. Reformation ultimately becomes necessary when forgiveness and grace are being bought and sold. This buying and selling was the case in Luther’s day 500 years ago, just as it was in Jesus’ day 2,000 years ago.

When Jesus marches into the temple with a whip, it is not merely out of righteous anger that his Father’s house is dirty. He is not there to clean. He is not there to debate. Jesus is there to make a mess. A sanctified shake-up is about to happen. And it’s going to happen because there are sinners that need it to happen.

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