Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
(Matthew 21:12-17 ESV)
Yesterday we saw Jesus clear the Temple in Jerusalem of people who were using it for their own selfish purposes. Such people were not welcome in God’s house. Today’s passage tells us the kind of people Jesus does welcome.
In ancient Israel those who were blind or lame were despised and ignored by the community because it was thought that they had become blind due to the sins either they or their parents committed [John 9:2]. Even the religious leaders had no compassion on them [Matthew 23:4].
In today’s passage we see such people come to Jesus in the Temple and He healed them. Jesus did not treat these people the way their neighbors and leaders did. He didn’t turn them away. From Jesus’ point of view these people were right where they needed to be.
Jesus displayed His wrath yesterday against the sin that was taking place in the Temple. But He immediately demonstrates compassion for people who are were the least in society. This is a perfect picture of God.
The moneychangers and sellers sinned and defiled the Temple, which was God’s home. So He drove them out. They incurred His wrath.
On the other hand, the blind and lame, despite their infirmities and diseases, did not defile the Temple even though the religious leaders thought they did. They were in need and came to Jesus for healing. As a result, they experienced His compassion.
God hates sin. But He loves the sinner. He will never exclude anyone who truly seeks Him from His presence. His love for those who are in need is great and His mercy is endless. But those who see no need for Him will be cast out of His presence for all eternity.
Those who don’t think they are ill won’t call a physician. But those who are sick seek out a doctor. Jesus didn’t come for those who think they are good. He came for those who know they are not [Matthew 9:12-13].
When I left a life of atheism for Christianity 22 years ago I started attending church for the first time in my life. During one of the first services I attended the pastor said something that I’ve never forgotten. He said “a church should be a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints”. When I heard that I knew I had made the right decision.
As a picture of Christ, the church must treat people like Jesus did. We are not to tolerate sin in our midst, as we’ve learned previously. And we are to have our doors open to needy, broken people. We are to show no favoritism – everyone should feel welcome in His house.
Christians are to welcome with open arms those the world has rejected, not only in our churches, but in our homes and lives as well.
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