As we enter into Passion Week or some call it Holy Week, we begin with singing Hosanna to our King. Many churches take this week to walk through the last week of Christ’s life before His death and resurrection. Our church is doing the same and including a time of prayer and fasting while reading through the Gospel accounts. As many will be reminded of Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem today, God had me reading the account in Mark this past Thursday during my regular Bible reading time. I believe it was not by accident and that God desired to show me something in advance of Passion Week so that I, as well as you, could be better prepared to receive all that Christ has for us this week and to share it with others.
When they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples and told them, “Go into the village ahead of you. As soon as you enter it, you will find a young donkey tied there, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here right away.'” So they went and found a young donkey outside in the street, tied by a door. They untied it, and some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the donkey?” They answered them just as Jesus had said, so they let them go. Then they brought the donkey to Jesus and threw their robes on it, and He sat on it. Many people spread their robes on the road, and others spread leafy branches cut from the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed kept shouting: Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven! And He went into Jerusalem and into the temple complex. After looking around at everything, since it was already late, He went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
The next day when they came out from Bethany, He was hungry. After seeing in the distance a fig tree with leaves, He went to find out if there was anything on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples heard it.
They came to Jerusalem, and He went into the temple complex and began to throw out those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers’ tables and the chairs of those selling doves, and would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple complex. Then He began to teach them: “Is it not written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves!” Then the chief priests and the scribes heard it and started looking for a way to destroy Him. For they were afraid of Him, because the whole crowd was astonished by His teaching. And whenever evening came, they would go out of the city. (Mark 11:1-19)
While the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 21:1-13) recounts this story with the cleansing of the temple immediately after Jesus enters Jerusalem and the Gospel of Luke (Luke 19:29-46) discusses it shortly after, all three Gospels testify that Christ cleaned house right before His death and resurrection. God’s house, the temple, had become a place of self-worship and prosperity instead of a place where people could humbly come before a righteous God and judge and allow their hearts to be cleaned by God’s presence. It was obviously important to Christ that nothing stands in between our relationship with God, as the tables overturned and He rebuked them for turning God’s house into a den of thieves. Christ had come to spend time in prayer with His Father during the last week of His time on earth, and while expecting to find a place of worship, He found a market instead.
If Christ deemed it necessary to make sure His own heart was right before God during the most unbelievable obedience He would have to walk in, shouldn’t our lives reflect a similar importance? While it is not easy and often ugly to come before God and admit all the idols we have crowded in our hearts to replace Him, ultimate freedom and cleansing come only through the removal of the dirt and grime. Today, as we cry out Hosanna to the King, shall we not take the time to allow the King of all Kings to come riding into our hearts and turn over anything that is preventing us from having true heart cries for our Lord and Savior. It will only be when our house is clean that we will truly be able to hear the truth Christ desires to speak to us this week as we follow Him through the greatest journey ever lived.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9