International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday April 6, 2014
Purpose: To heed Jesus’ warning about how our lives and material resources can be misused in ways that distort God’s mission
Background scripture: Jeremiah 7:8-15; Mark 11:15-19
Scripture text: Isaiah 56:6-7
Jeremiah 7:9-11 (CEB)
(9) Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, sacrifice to Baal and go after other gods that you don’t know, (10) and then come and stand before me in this temple that bears my name, and say, "We are safe," only to keep on doing all these detestable things? (11) Do you regard this temple, which bears my name, as a hiding place for criminals? I can see what’s going on here, declares the Lord.
Mark 11: 15-19 (CEB)
(15) They came into Jerusalem. After entering the temple, he threw out those who were selling and buying there. He pushed over the tables used for currency exchange and the chairs of those who sold doves. (16) He didn’t allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. (17) He taught them, "Hasn’t it been written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you’ve turned it into a hideout for crooks."(18) The chief priests and legal experts heard this and tried to find a way to destroy him. They regarded him as dangerous because the whole crowd was enthralled at his teaching. (19) When it was evening, Jesus and his disciples went outside the city.
Isaiah 56:6-7 (CEB)
(6) The immigrants who have joined me, serving me and loving my name, becoming my servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath without making it impure, and those who hold fast to my covenant: (7) I will bring them to my holy mountain, and bring them joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their entirely burned offerings and sacrifices on my altar. My house will be known as a house of prayer for all peoples.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
It is Monday morning after the “Triumphal Entry” (Palm Sunday.) Jesus and his disciples are going back to Jerusalem. Along the way, Jesus spots a fig tree that shows no signs of bearing fruit, and Jesus curses it, this could be Jesus way of expressing disappointment in the Jewish people.
If you go back to the evening of Palm Sunday, Jesus visits the temple prior to heading back to Bethany for the evening. (Mark 11:11) says, “11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. After he looked around at everything, because it was already late in the evening, he returned to Bethany with the Twelve.” We are not told what Jesus saw that upset him, but he appears to be ready to confront those that were set up to take advantage of those travelers and those that needed to exchange their money for acceptable coins that could be given at the temple.
On this Monday morning as the entourage returns to the temple, Jesus wasted no time in going after those that were defiling the temple. He goes through the temple like a bull in a china shop, and tips over tables and chairs and prohibits anyone from taking anything into the temple.
In the gospels there are two cleansing of the temple. The first is recorded in John 2:13-16. 13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 He found in the temple those who were selling cattle, sheep, and doves, as well as those involved in exchanging currency sitting there. 15 He made a whip from ropes and chased them all out of the temple, including the cattle and the sheep. He scattered the coins and overturned the tables of those who exchanged currency. 16 He said to the dove sellers, "Get these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a place of business." According to John this takes place at the beginning of Jesus ministry. Whether at the beginning or the end you get a sense of Jesus’ determination in ridding the temple of the money changers and the those that were selling animals for sacrifice at a great profit.
In the Old Testament text used for today’s lesson, we can see where Jesus was coming from. Both Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesied about the temple and how it was being misused in their day. The temple was meant to be a place where man and God could commune. It was not a place where you could come and make yourself feel good, by going through the motions.
As Christ followers, we cannot live one way, and think that we are secure in our Christianity because we go to church every Sunday. Christ calls us to be a follower 24/7.
God does not separate worship from work. God’s desire is for us to be faithful in loving Him, and in loving our neighbors. Living a life that is lived to make us happy is not living for Jesus. God wants a relationship, we would prefer our desires be met.