He said to them, “It has been written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it into a den of robbers!” Blind and lame people came up to him in the Temple, and he healed them. Math 21:13-14
Jesus came into the temple and cleaned it. We know the story well. He was turning over the tables of the money changers that made a fortune converting Roman coins and other kinds of money into temple money so people could buy the animals they had to offer. And as the temple currency was only available here in the temple, they pretty much made the exchange rate. A thriving business, a cartel.
In the name of convenience a system had been put in place. So believers did not have to organize themselves and think too much about where they would get an animal fit for sacrifice from, they were sold right there in the church. That way you could come to church, um – excuse me – the temple unprepared. All you needed was some money. And good money was made off of you. And I am sure that people that took with them their own bull from home, preparing their sacrifice, even having a relationship with their sacrifice, were scorned. Why go through the hassle of preparation, why sacrifice something that is dear to me if I can just get some impersonal animal from the sheep den in the temple, just put some money in.
But Jesus wants the house of God to be what it was designed to be. A house of prayer. And a house of what flows out of prayer.
I never saw this before, but in verse 14, the blind and the lame come into the temple. They were not allowed in the temple! We read in Acts about the lame person that daily sat at the door called beautiful. After Peter and John healed him he was allowed in the temple for the first time. We read in the Old Testament that no priest nor any sacrifice was allowed to have flaws. And religion shut out all people with flaws in their body from the temple. Even today we let people into the church easily with money that try to control the operation of the church, yet keep many out because they do not measure up to our standard of flawlessness – usually external religiosity, which we call holiness and purity.
What an affront this must have been to the priests and the pharisees. The lame and the blind in the temple. And Jesus healed them that were obviously cursed by God. Why do I say that? Because the same people asked Jesus when he healed a blind man whether he was blind for his own sins or the sins of his parents. It is true, those people live under the curse, just like we all did without Jesus. It is a dying world because of the fall and an enemy of God that bring about blindness and lameness. A life without God, but even a life with a different gospel than the bible preaches is accursed, as Paul teaches us. Not that God or Paul curse such people, they just hide from the blessings of God that are in his presence.
But back to our text. Under the old covenant – and let’s face it, the people in Jesus’ time lived under the old covenant as the new one was not cut yet – all things are external. External laws, external flaws. Under the new covenant, what was portrayed and symbolized using external things becomes internal. The law written on our heart, not dead letter, but Spirit breathed desires of our hearts to serve the one that bought us free. Thus flaws of the body have to be understood differently as well.
Jesus talks about the one eyed leading the blind. Blindness is not seeing and understanding the workings, the principles, the beauty of God, not knowing his will. Blindness is not knowing the finished work of God and the one that did it all.
Blind people can walk. They just do not know where they go. Lame people can see. They just cannot walk. In spiritual terms: as long as you do not see the finished work of Christ and his will for you, you just wander. But once you see, you have to be willing to walk into it.
For centuries the enemy was very successful to blind us to the truths of the Gospel. We did not see that God loved us unconditionally – thus all the works to please him. We did not see that he fulfilled both sides of the covenant, giving the law and keeping it at the same time – thus we went back to keep external laws like the Galatians. We did not see that everything was already done – thus we tried to accomplish it ourselves. But for the last 500 years God was in the restoration business. Truth after truth was restored to the church, such as salvation by faith through grace, the gifts of the Spirit, the government gifts of Jesus, corporate priesthood. And so much more along the way.
Whenever a truth was revealed, only some walked into and kept walking in it. The eyes of the blind were opened, allowing them to make a decision to be healed from their lameness. Truths spoken by God and therefore set in heaven have to be walked out in obedience to be established in the earth as facts.
Where did all this happen?
It happened in the temple, the place of gathering. Today the church is the place of gathering. Paul tells us that Jesus has given apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to teach the body and bring them into maturity. To heal their blindness and help them walk – if they want. Again Paul tells us that all the gifts, not only the governmental gifts, work together as a body.
And it happened where Jesus was. It happened in the presence of God.
Jesus healed you already. That is the finished work. Now: decide to open your eyes to the truth and walk it out. So just like Jesus did I command you to see and take your bed and walk!
Let me tell you again how this is done. Read the bible, pray, pray some more, and then pray again. Converse and commune with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit. Gather with others. Accept godly leadership. Learn with an open heart. Be teachable. This will cause you to see. And then walk it out. Just do it!
There is no more room for your own will in this. His will alone. There is no more room for egoism. We do not have to strive to please God, he loves us unconditionally, and Jesus restored our relationship to its fulness. But we have to strive to get rid of ourselves, to believe that we are dead and live as him, to press into the things of God. The things of God are yes and amen. They are set in heaven. But somebody is needed to walk them out in the earh. Don’t be lame!
Where does it happen? In the place of gathering in the presence of God.
Who does it happen to? The ones that know that without the presence of God they are blind and lame. The ones that press through religious boundaries, and even though, or better exactly because they are not perfect, come into the presence of God.
It is a press. It is a press through and out of our own misconceptions of having to measure up. It is all about changing our thinking.
When we press into his presence despite our flaws and let it consume us and do not hide, when we walk out what we learned to see, we are made whole.