Jesus celebrated the Passover according to Jewish law, because He had not yet been crucified as the “Lamb that takes away all sin”. Jesus was a great reformer, cleansing the temple of the illicit trade business was one of the first acts of His reformation. These people who were selling these animals in the temple were making a mockery of the sacrificial rites. According to the law, the animals were killed outside at the door of the Temple. (See Leviticus: 1-3). Parts of the animals would make the Temple area unclean. This disrespect for His Father’s house was what angered Jesus and caused His immediate reaction. Where is our passion level on keeping the “temple of God” pure? Do we cast down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God? Are we filled with righteous indignation when we see others being mistreated? What does God expect of us?
8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?—Micah 6:8 (NASB)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.—Acts 10:34-36 NIV
Just as Peter had to be shown that Gentiles were not “unclean” in the sight of God, we sometimes need to be taught that same lesson. We are all “unclean” in the sense that we are sinful, but the reference here is whether or not we are worthy of consideration for the gospel. Peter was speaking about nations, but let’s bring that down to groups and even further, let’s bring it down to individuals. How many times have we felt the nudge to speak to someone about the message of Jesus Christ and we have not been obedient? Have we not, in that instance, said “No, Lord, they are unclean.”? Reread verse 36, it says “through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all”. God has already decided that He wants everyone to hear the gospel.
3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.–1 Timothy 2:3,4 NIV
We need to pray that God will release us from the fear of rejection and failure, so that we can witness to those He puts in our path each day. It helps to remember that we are not responsible for the outcome, we are only responsible to God to be obedient to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Our success in witnessing is determined by our obedience, not by the final results. We obey, God takes care of the rest.
28 Early in the morning they led Jesus from Caiaphas’s house to the Roman governor’s palace. They would not go inside the palace, because they did not want to make themselves unclean; they wanted to eat the Passover meal. 29 So Pilate went outside to them and asked, “What charges do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered, “If he were not a criminal, we wouldn’t have brought him to you.” 31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we are not allowed to put anyone to death,” the Jews answered. 32 (This happened so that what Jesus said about how he would die would come true.)—John 18:28-32 (NCV)
We humans are a mess! Look at these religious leaders! Here they are participating in a mockery of justice and falsely accusing Jesus of being a criminal of some sort. Yet, they would not go inside the Roman governor’s palace lest they become defiled and unclean. Then they would not be able to eat the Passover meal. The Jews had the authority to hold court and try their own people, so that is what Pilate tells them to do. But they wanted Jesus to be put to death and they did not have the authority to administer that kind of punishment. We, too, can be as hypocritical as these religious leaders. We judge unfairly and gossip about others, even our own Christian brothers and sisters. We can go to church every day of the week, but if we don’t love our neighbor, we are just as guilty as these people. Remember, every word of gossip grieves the Holy Spirit who is living inside us. As I write this, I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is guiding me because I need to be the first to hear this admonition. Thank you, Holy Spirit, my friend and my guide, for loving me enough to take the time to teach me again and again and again. Thank you for forgiving me even though you know I will fail and grieve you again. Amazing love!! Amazing grace that saved a wretch like me!!!
20 You died with Christ and were made free from the powers that influence this world. So why do you act as if you still belong to the world? I mean, why do you follow rules like these: 21 “Don’t eat this,” “Don’t taste that,” “Don’t touch that”? 22 These rules are talking about earthly things that are gone after they are used. They are only human commands and teachings. 23 These rules may seem to be wise as part of a made-up religion in which people pretend to be humble and punish their bodies. But they don’t help people stop doing the evil that the sinful self wants to do.–Colossians 2:20-23 (ETRV)
Jesus came to set us free from the captivity of our sins. When we spiritually died with Christ and we were raised up again, we were set free from the powers of this world. Our lifestyles should reflect that death and resurrection. We should live our lives free from old laws and traditions. As Jesus instructed Peter in Acts 11: 9 The voice spoke again from heaven, ‘Do not consider anything unclean that God has declared clean.” But we must never let our liberty be a stumbling block to outsiders or those that are weaker. We should use our liberty in Jesus to attract others to Him. We are to be filled with the Spirit of the Living God and led by His directions. Only the love of God and His Spirit abiding in us can stop us from doing the evil things that the flesh continues to want to do. We should be Spirit-fed and Spirit-led. Will we be accused of trying to be little “Jesuses”? Probably so, but is there anyone better for us to attempt to mimic than our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?