Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Worship Jesus Despises - Part 1

Late Monday or early Tuesday before Jesus was crucified, He apparently got upset. "Jesus went into the temple complex and drove out all those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers' tables and the chairs of those selling doves." (Mt. 21:12) At face value, these booths were set up to facilitate worship. Worshippers required clean sacrifices, and these people provided them from booths set up in the court of the Gentiles.  Apparently Jesus was more than unimpressed.  Why?

"And He said to them, 'It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer. but you are making it a den of thieves!" (Mt. 21:13) He was far less concerned with their ritual than with their relationship. A millennium before, God impressed King David to buy a piece or property from a farmer named Ornan. As the King approached Ornan about selling the property, he first refused to sell it, instead wanting to make it a gift to the king.  David said, "No, I insist on paying the full price, for I will not take for the Lord what belongs to you or offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing." (1 Chron. 21:24)  This was the very piece of property upon which the temple was built. Why did God honor David's purchase and not what these men were doing? 

David was a man after God's own heart. He refused to allow someone else provide for His sacrifice. For David, the worship of God was personal, not ritual.  For the people Jesus drove from the temple and for their patrons, worship had been made convenient, a business interaction, and impersonal, and Jesus despised it. I have often said, "I really enjoyed worship today."  I have rarely asked, "I wonder if God enjoyed my worship today?"

Is your worship an act of receiving, or is it an act of relationship, pouring your life out in encouragement of others and praise to God? Do you come to bless or be blessed? Is it a ritual or a relationship? Does Jesus look forward to your worship?