When Did Jesus Clean Out the Temple?

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all agree. Jesus ran the money changers out of the temple on Monday of Holy Week. John, on the other hand, puts this event very early in his Gospel. In fact, John puts it in the second chapter of his Gospel.

You don’t have to be a biblical scholar to see how John tells the story of Jesus in a very different way. While the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) seem to follow the same basic timeline of Jesus’ ministry, John doesn’t. John isn’t concerned about the chronology of events. He’s concerned with their meaning. He puts details in his Gospel so their meaning is illuminated.

And this is what he does with the story Jesus cleaning out the temple. John puts it first. It’s as if John is saying, “If you want to understand Jesus and His ministry, you have to understand this: Jesus breaks down the barriers that keep people from coming to God.” The temple process of providing acceptable sacrifices had become so expensive that a lot of poor people could no longer participate in worship. For Jesus, this was unacceptable. He cleared out the tables and the money changers because they got in the way of worship.

This is what Jesus did throughout His ministry—He broke down the barriers that kept people from coming to God.

That’s what He’s doing now. Jesus came so that nothing could stop people—all kinds of people—from coming to God.

Which makes me wonder, what would Jesus turn over in our church? What would He turn over in my life?

For that matter, what would He turn over in your life?

Palm Sunday: Jesus Comes to Jerusalem

Christ followers often celebrate the promises given to us in Romans 8. This chapter tells us that nothing will separate us from the love of God we have in Christ Jesus. The Triumphant Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday is the moment we see that promise coming true.

Jesus had been warned not to go to Jerusalem. He knew His enemies were there, waiting on His appearance to spring their trap. Jesus knew of their plans to kill Him. He knew Rome was watching Him with a wary eye. Religious teachers were tolerated by Rome, but those who claimed to be king were not.

Jesus knew all of this…and He came anyway.

Jesus will not surrender one square inch to His enemies. He will never say a challenge is too hard or a place is too tough. He will always come to claim what belongs to Him. Jerusalem belonged to Him and He wasn’t going to simply walk away and let it go. He came anyway.

This week, as we remember the journey of Jesus’ final week on earth, the first thing we have to understand is that Jesus came anyway. He wouldn’t let the threats or dangers keep Him away from the city and people He loved.

And so, on this Palm Sunday, I am struck with the overwhelming reality that the love of God in Christ won’t let us go. Jesus keeps coming. He won’t quit. He won’t give up. He won’t decide that this time, it’s just too hard. His love simply won’t let us go.

And that’s the good news of Palm Sunday. Jesus comes anyway. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God we have in Christ Jesus.”

Financial Planning is Sexy

All of us know we should have a financial plan for our families, but few of us have taken the necessary steps to put a plan in place. It’s hard, tedious, and sometimes boring work. And you have to talk about dying. Who wants to talk about dying?

As a result, important questions are left unanswered. Notice, what I just said. The questions go unanswered, not unthought.

Now, here’s the kicker. These are things your husband or wife is thinking about anyway. Because these questions haven’t been answered, the constant haunting of these worries keeps your spouse’s brain preoccupied. That means they can’t think about anything else. Enormous brain power, both conscious and unconscious, is used up working through various life scenarios. If this happens, your spouse will think, “Here’s what I’ll have to do.”

Questions like, Who will take care of the children? Who will pay for college? Will there be enough money? These and a million other questions have to be answered.

That’s why I want to give you another way to think about it. As a husband and wife, father and mother, you need to prepare for the future of your family. The only problem is that no one can tell the future. So, we have to prepare for a number of things that “might” happen in our future. What happens “if…” This is what a good financial plan is all about. Once these questions are answered, your mind is free to think about other things. Not only that, but your spouse knows you love them enough to deal with the hard work of financial planning. This is what makes financial planning sexy.

Once you answer these questions, your spouse will have the time and energy to think about other things—namely you. What you do with all of that attention is up to you.

So, grab all of the files you need, call your financial planner, and work it out. Sign your will and put it in a safe place. Then, grab your spouse and start living. After all, you’ve just signed a huge reminder that you won’t live forever. Don’t squander a moment of it!

Five Ways to Create a Sanctuary in Your Marriage

In the classic novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo tries to protect his beloved Esmeralda by hiding her in the church and claiming sanctuary. Sanctuary is an old belief that people could hide in churches and be safe from harm. Now, we use the term for any kind of safe place (like wildlife sanctuaries where animals are free from being hunted). Sanctuary, though, still has a deep and godly meaning.

The concept of having a sanctuary takes on a deeper meaning when applied to our marriages. Everybody needs a safe place. Everybody needs a place to which they can come and take their armor off, lay down their weapons from the battle of life, and rest without fear of attack. A healthy marriage provides sanctuary for each person. Having a place where you can tend to your wounds and be honest about your struggles without the fear that what you’re going through will be used against you.

The world is not a safe place. The work place beats men up physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Our world is tough on women. Everything from body image to parenting skills to glass ceilings in their professions, hammers the souls of our wives. And if our wives are stay-at-home moms, they need a safe place where little hands aren’t grabbing for them every minute!

  1. Your spouse needs to have a safe place—a sanctuary. So how can you make your marriage a sanctuary? Recognize everyone needs transition time. A time to let go of the office and get home or a time to switch from being a mother to being a wife. (And no, these two roles aren’t the same.)
  2. Respect silence. It’s not always a bad sign.
  3. When your spouse talks, listen. You don’t have to fix everything, but you do need to listen.
  4. Hold them. Your hands reaching after them may be the only hands they’ll see without a knife in them.
  5. Love them—totally and without condition.

Everyone needs a safe place. Make sure your marriage is a sanctuary for your spouse.