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)
Today we conclude our study of Jesus clearing the Temple in Jerusalem just days before He would be arrested and crucified. We previously saw Him express His wrath at those who were using God’s house for profit. He then displayed compassion on the needy. Today the chief priests and the teachers of the law confront Jesus about His behavior.
Notice that these men were not dismayed at the sin that was going on in the Temple. They seemingly had no problem with that. Rather, they were indignant when they saw the wonderful things Jesus did and when they heard the children shouting praise to Jesus.
Isn’t this the way the world still is? It turns a blind eye to sin. It even encourages and promotes sins such as abortion, pornography, greed, lying, and homosexuality to name just a few, while Jesus is despised. When a believer makes an outward expression of faith they seek to suppress him/her.
We see this attitude in the question the religious leaders pose to Jesus. They were so sure they were right about Jesus (that He was a fraud) that they had no hesitation to tell Him such to His face. They asked Jesus if He heard what the children were saying as if it were a foregone conclusion that the children were wrong in calling Jesus the Messiah (the term “Son of David” is an Old Testament phrase referring to the Messiah).
Jesus’ reply is great. He simply says “Yeah, I heard it”. Then He turns the tables and pointedly asks them “have you ever read”? These men were self-proclaimed experts on God. If that were the case they would have known their Scriptures better and would have known that Jesus fulfilled the precise Messianic prophecies from the Old Testament – all of them – exactly as they were foretold. The praise coming from these children was one of these prophecies written by the prophet Asaph.
The problem these men had and which the world has today is simple. They can’t tolerate the goodness of Jesus because the goodness of Jesus exposes their sin; they don’t want to admit they are sinners [John 3:20]. So they’d rather believe the self-delusional lie that they’re “good”. But none of us are good [Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:10 et. al]. The pure holiness of God as displayed through Jesus reveals each of us as a sinner.
The end result is that those who don’t want Jesus will get their wish – they will spend eternity without Him. Just like Jesus left these men and departed from their presence to be with those who wanted Him (Jesus had very good friends in Bethany, outside of Jerusalem), Jesus will abandon for all eternity those who don’t want anything to do with Him in this life.
And while those who refuse to believe in Him now may think that is a good thing, I doubt it will take long after they die for them to realize their mistake.
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