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Mark 172 - Taught Them



And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”


Mark 11:17


I love this about God. He doesn’t just go off the deep end with punishment. He sees an opportunity where people aren’t just in need of information, but their hearts are open to it. So, he steps in, steps up, and starts telling people the truth about what’s going on. But not to just post data or information, but so they can learn, understand, and change.


The goal of all Jesus’ teaching is to explain who God is and his view of reality so we can get in line with him. It’s our place to get in line with him, not for him to get in line with us.


Jesus tells them that a change has taken place. God’s plan for his house, the temple, was to be a house of prayer. Not just for the Jews or some favored, special people, but for all people. No matter their political, geographic, or ethnic heritage, this place was made for them. And they were welcomed by God.


Some transformation: from a house of prayer to a den of thieves. A house is where you are most comfortable, most “at home” where you can relax, let your hair down. A house is where you celebrate your great victories together. A house is also where you share your most intimate, secrets, fears, and hurts.


This house was not filled with your normal, run-of-the-mill individual robbers that takes from whatever “easy-pickins” happens to pass by. No, these are robbers that are an organized team. They are systematic in their approach.


Robbers have inserted themselves into the very fabric of how things work. They get their money because “this is just the way things work.” Robbers are those who steal openly, they don’t try to hide what they’re doing. They are someone who exploits the weak and vulnerable.


I remember going with my dad to the construction site where our house was being built. My dad went to talk with the contractor to see how things were going. When someone drove up in a truck, the contractor stepped away, took out a roll of $20 bills and wrapped them around the neck of a whiskey bottle with a rubber band. He walked over, shook hands, handed them the bottle, and then returned.


“Wasn’t that slick” he said to my dad. With a questioning look on his face, my dad said, “I don’t understand. What was that?” With a great big grin, the contractor announced, “That was your electrical inspection.” You see, corruption and payoffs had become normal.


Same thing happened with the temple. It had been transformed from a place of worship, prayer, where God’s light was on display for all to see. It’s now a cave, a den, a dark, secret hideout, a place where you hide from everyone.


A den is also not easy to get to or enter. A den is off the beaten path, remote, hard to find. People will pass it by without any indication or knowledge that it’s there. If you don’t know the exact location, it’s easy to miss.


God has shown himself clearly. There’s no mistake about who he is and his personality. Our world and the incredible universe screams’ loudly and clearly about him. It wasn’t a random, uncontrolled, impersonal, bigbang. A bang is destructive, blows things apart into unusable pieces. It wastes energy and everything involved with the bang.


Creation was and is a clear word shouted to personally display and declare himself to everyone. For all time. There was nothing destructive about his word. On the contrary, it was constructive. Energizing. Creative.


When we take what God created or designed, and add our own two cents, it goes from creation to destruction. From light to darkness. From organized to disorganized.


Jesus came to earth to not just repair or restore us, but to make us into new creatures.


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!


2 Corinthians 5:17


Jesus is not in the business of throwing us into a dark pit, but raising us up as sons and daughters of the most high God. He alone can transform us, raise us up. He alone offers forgiveness at a price that he paid.


It is way beyond us to be able to pay for ourselves. God alone had to pay. And he did in Jesus.


Isn’t it time for you to look out from the dark, deep cave you’ve been living in? To look at Jesus, the only one who claims to love you to the point of dying for you.


The old hymn says it so well.


Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.[1]

[1] Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus, Author: Helen Howarth Lemmel (1922)

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