On Easter Sunday I was a bit out of sync and actually preached on the Palm Sunday event of Christ entering Jerusalem and clearing the temple. I’d preached on it before but this time the Lord gave me new insight into just how ugly must have been the scene that Jesus encountered at the temple, how relevant it is to our day and why he must do the same in us, his church, before the world can have the manifestation of him that he intends it to have before he returns.
It had to do with the Court of the Gentiles, a wide open place set apart for the nations to come and find God. It surrounded the inner courts and the Holy Place, where the circumcised could come, by the blood of a lamb, and have fellowship with God – with the intent that they would minister that life out to the world.
What he found was a people who gave lip service to the inner court but actually lived in the outer courts, wheeling and dealing at tables set up for their own benefit and not for the benefit of the nations. Unfortunately when the nations came, seeking the dwelling place of God, what they found was a market, and one that was little different to what they already had back in Athens or Rome.
As I considered the picture it occurred to me that it is a currently relevant picture – and equally obnoxious and deserving of judgement.
We too are meant to have an inner place where, by the blood of Christ and with circumcised hearts, we ‘live and move and have our being’, in the presence of God. But surrounding that we are also meant to have a wide open ‘court of the Gentiles’ , a large place where seekers after truth can come and find the life that we share with Christ. In practical terms that ‘court’ represents time, energy and resources that are available for ‘others’. The lost are meant to come and find a place that is uncluttered and available.