The way Eugene Peterson phrases verse 14 in his Bible translation The Message, after Jesus had cleared the temple of loan sharks and pigeon sellers, makes it clear the reason behind Jesus actions.
‘Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them.’
Now there was room! Gone were those who used God for gain and in came those who needed a touch from God. Gone were those whose eyes were on the profit and in came those whose eyes were on the glory of God. God’s house went from turning a profit to transforming lives, from pleasing the bankers to pleasing God, as the sound of children shouting the glory of God replaced the ka-ching of cash.
Matthew records that ‘wonderful’ things were happening before their very eyes. Lame were walking, deaf could hear and blind could see. Shouts of joy were mingled with tears of gratitude and the chaos of children running wild punctuated by exuberant shouting of hooray for salvation echoing from every wall.
Yet in response to ‘wonderful things’ the religious leaders were anything but happy. In fact Matthew describes them as indignant. The Greek word used by Matthew is ‘aganakteō’ and it carries a sense of being pained, to manifest indignation. Matthew is saying they didn’t like it and it showed all over their face. This word is only used another 6 times in the New Testament.
It is used to describe the reaction of Jesus’ disciples when discovering James and John’s mum had tried to corner the market in eternal thrones for her sons. (Matt 20:24, Mark 10:41) It is used to describe the disciples and onlookers as a woman anointed Jesus with a very expensive jar of perfume. Possibly the final nail in Judas treachery as watched expensive perfume dripping off Jesus onto a dirt floor and in that moment saw it as a waste rather than worship. (Matt 26:8, Mark 14:4). And similar to Jesus’ actions in our present reading it describes religious leaders when Jesus heals on the sabbath and of Jesus himself when children were excluded from meeting him. (Lk 13:14, Mark 10:14).
So, it would seem the religious leaders were more concerned about turning a profit than healings and praise. In reply to their moans about children disrupting the temple, Jesus points them to a Psalm of David where he declares the glory of God is so obvious that even babies and toddlers instinctively praises give praise to God, which is enough to quiet God’s enemies.
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. – Psalm 8:1:2
Somehow, the chief priests and scribes looked up to the same heavens and saw no glory worth singing about. And even now, as the heavenly glory stood before them as human, they refused to add their hosannas to the children’s song. Hardened into self-sufficient, respectable adulthood, they had grown too old for the kingdom. – Scott Hubbard.
Thank you, heavenly Father, for inviting me into your family and adopting me as your child. You welcomed me even when I really did not deserve it. I am grateful that you sent the Holy Spirit to speak to my heart and convict me of my sin. Through the finished work of Jesus on the cross you wiped my slate clean and I need never feel condemned again. Help me always to make room in my life for those who do not know you and have never felt your love.
More From This Series
View the other Devotionals in our “For the Joy” series