Dr. Ray Pritchard

Author, Speaker, President of Keep Believing Ministries

The Temple Courts: Jesus Makes a Ruckus


"Christ and the Money-Changers," Eric Gill, 1919

“He made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables” (John 2:15).

Sometimes you’ve got to clean house.
In this case Jesus decided to clean his Father’s house.

It happened during Passover when Jerusalem was crowded with Jewish pilgrims. Some of the local merchants (supported by the High Priest and his friends) decided this was a chance to make some big money. So they set up stalls near the temple where they charged exorbitant rates for the animals being offered for sacrifice.

The money changers inflated the exchange rate for temple currency in order to gouge the poor pilgrims who had no other option if they wanted to worship at the temple. Jesus cleansed the temple because its leaders were corrupt and greedy. The priests made money off the backs of the poor people who had no other option. They had turned the temple from a house of prayer into a noisy, money-grubbing circus.

Jesus hated that.
He hated the businessmen who took advantage of the poor.
He hated the priests who were in on the deal.
He hated those who acted unjustly while claiming to worship the God of justice.

Jesus despised what these profiteers were doing.
Injustice is always wrong, but injustice in the name of God is doubly evil. Jesus would not stand for it.

A plaque at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. contains this quote from Yehuda Bauer: “Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”

Good words to ponder as we journey with Jesus toward the cross.
Are we bystanders as life passes by?
Or will we care enough in Jesus’ name to get involved?

Lord, forgive us for caring so much about ourselves that we care so little about the hurting people of this world. Give us eyes to see, a voice to speak, and the will to act. Amen

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Cana: A Quiet Miracle Saves the Day

 

“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding” (John 2:1-2).

Two things stand out to me in this story of Jesus turning water into wine. First, Mary expects her son to do something about the wine running out. No doubt for a long time Mary had wanted to share with others the secret about Jesus. She wanted them to know that he was no ordinary child, that he was the “Son of the Most High” who would one day establish a kingdom that will never end. But that grand achievement seemed very remote on that day in the little village of Cana when the wine ran out before the wedding was over. 

Her request is, “My son, do something about this.” She meant, “You have power they know nothing about. Use it to solve this problem.” Was she expecting Jesus to work a miracle? If so, she could hardly be faulted for wanting others to know the truth about Jesus.

Second, we see in this miracle the reticence of our Lord. He does not work a miracle of new creation by creating wine out of nothing. When the miracle is done, he lets the servants announce it. During his earthly ministry Jesus was always conscious that his hour (the time of his suffering) had not yet come. He would not unnecessarily reveal himself nor create a public stir. So he turns the water into wine, but he does not make a great display of it. Later miracles (such as the feeding of the 5000) would be more public. This first miracle adds to the joy of the wedding but does not distract from the purpose of the day. 

Did the newlyweds know that Jesus had turned the water into wine? Perhaps, but we can’t be certain. Did they become believers? Again, we don’t know. But this miracle benefits everyone who came to the wedding. They drank the “good wine” even if they didn’t know where it came from.

Mary will live to see her wish come true as multitudes believe in Jesus. But for now, this first miracle brings joy to a wedding feast. Those who understand believe in him. 

A “quiet miracle” saved the day at Cana. It is a harbinger of much more to come. 

Lord Jesus, open our eyes to see you at work all around us. Thank you for giving joy that can never be taken away. Amen. 

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Gerasa: Go Away, Jesus

“When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. . . . Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region” (Mark 5:15, 17).

This is the most severe case of demon possession in the Bible.
It is also one of the most amazing miracles Jesus ever performed.

Jesus met a man filled with demons when he visited Gerasa, in Gentile territory, on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee. After Jesus cast out the demons, he allowed them to possess the pigs who ran down a cliff and into the sea. Meanwhile the man sat at Jesus’ feet, calm, clothed, and in his right mind. The response of the townspeople is telling: “They were afraid” (v. 15). So they begged Jesus to leave their region. Jesus left and as far as we know, he never returned.

Ponder this thought for a moment. After Jesus works an amazing miracle, the townspeople ask him to leave.

When people looked at the man, there was no doubt that a miracle had occurred. Evidently the pigs mattered more than the man. But to Jesus the man mattered more than the pigs. They couldn’t handle the transformation. Instead of rejoicing, they were afraid. Of what? Of the man? Possibly. Of Jesus? Definitely! They were afraid of anyone with that kind of power. What will he do next? To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, Jesus is not safe, but he is good. He does not always do what we expect, but what he does is always for the best.

The people who came to investigate the miracle asked Jesus to leave because he was bad for business. They were right! When Jesus comes into your life, it will never be business as usual again.

Before his conversion, Augustine said he sometimes prayed, “Save me, O Lord, save me, but not now!” He is not the first or the last person to pray that way.

Lord Jesus, may we not be afraid of your power. Change us from the inside out, even if it makes us uncomfortable. Amen.

You can reach the author at [email protected]. Click here to sign up for the free email sermon.

By the Shore: Follow Me!

“Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him” (Luke 5:10-11).

“Fear not and follow me.”

These five words sum up the call of Christ to each of us. We must set aside our worry about the future and our fear of what others may think of us. Until we do, we can never truly follow Jesus. 

For Peter and the other disciples, following Christ meant leaving behind the old life (including the incredible catch of fish), giving up their boats, their nets, and their livelihood, and following Christ into an unknown future. Dietrich Bonhoeffer described it this way: “They must burn their boats and plunge into absolute insecurity in order to learn the demand and the gift of Christ.”

Letting go must always come first. Anything that hinders our walk with Christ must go. Even some good things must go in order that better things may come from the Lord. We can’t have it both ways.

The word for “followed” means “to walk the same road.” That’s what a disciple does—he walks the same road as Jesus. He gets on the “Jesus road” and follows it wherever it may lead. No guarantees, no deals, no special promises. He simply walks that road every day, following in his Master’s steps.

Don’t be afraid to follow Jesus. You’ll never regret starting down the “Jesus road.” You will only regret that you waited so long to do it.

Are you ready to follow Jesus wherever he leads? That’s where it all begins. The rest is just details.

Lord Jesus, let faith rise to replace our fear. May we gladly leave all to follow you and not hold back, not even a little bit. Amen. 

You can reach the author at [email protected]. Click here to sign up for the free email sermon.

About Dr. Ray Pritchard

Dr. Ray Pritchard is the president of Keep Believing Ministries, in Internet-based ministry serving Christians in 225 countries. He is the author of 29 books, including Stealth Attack, Fire and Rain, Credo, The ABCs of Christmas, The Healing Power of Forgiveness, An Anchor for the Soul and Why Did This Happen to Me? Ray and Marlene, his wife of 39 years, have three sons-Josh, Mark and Nick, two daughters-in-law--Leah and Vanessa, and four grandchildren grandsons: Knox, Eli, Penny and Violet. His hobbies include biking, surfing the Internet, and anything related to the Civil War.

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