*** This article is part of a blog series by a Guest Author: Nic Thackwray. It is a journey into understanding better God’s Zeal for His House. You can check out the Introduction to the series here. ***
So this was God’s plan: a house of prayer for us (i.e. the untold joy of being God’s friends), a crucifix for Jesus. If I were Jesus, I would object at this point. But Jesus did not. Although out of His fear for God’s anger at our sin He pleaded for another way at the last moment (when the reality of the Father’s abandonment and fury began to set in), He did not delay in doing the Father’s will. It was His zeal for what He saw in the Father’s heart that would lead Him on. He saw in the Father’s heart a house of prayer, all the nations of the entire earth glorifying God, and it was this vision that consumed Him.
“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade”. His disciples remembered that it was written, Zeal for your house will consume me. And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.” (John 2:13-17, Italics added)
In Mark 11:17, in an different account of this same incident, it records Jesus saying (more likely shouting) while He passionately clears His Father’s temple , “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations?’ But you have made it a den of robbers.” This is a direct quote from Isaiah 56, the passage that we started with a few weeks ago. Jesus got the Father’s mission. In fact He burned with passion and zeal for it.
Mark records in the passage: “And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him”. Jesus clearing the temple was the last straw. It was prophesied of Jesus that His zeal for His Father’s house would consume Him (Psalm 69:9*) and in a few days, the chief priests and scribes, driven by their jealousy, were crying out, “Crucify him!” And as Jesus hung on the cross, His body broken and His blood pouring out, the prophecy was fulfilled: Jesus was physically and spiritually consumed by His zeal for His Father’s house. Yes, the chief priests and scribes handed him over to Pilate because of their jealousy, but they did not take His life from Him…He gave it freely…to be our Door into the Father’s house.
Jesus, we want our lives to be consumed with zeal for You, for Your people, for Your plans! Thank You for Your zeal. May it be in our hearts.
*For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.