Matthew 21:12-22 (ESV)

12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, 16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” 17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there. 18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. 20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Jesus entered into the temple, which was supposed to be a place of prayer, and discovered people using both God’s house and God’s people for personal financial gain. In response, Jesus boldly drove out those who sought to make a profit there and overturned the tables of the money-changers. The money-changers were like people who exchange currency today. Because travelers came from all over to worship and make sacrifices to God, a variety of currencies were brought into the temple. The money-changers traded the coins the worshippers brought with them for coins that could be used to buy animals or pay the temple tax. But this all came with a substantial fee. No one was changing money for free. Verse 12 also states that Jesus overturned the seats of those who sold pigeons. There was nothing wrong with selling animals for sacrifice, as people who traveled far couldn’t bring their own birds with them. But Jesus was angry because the temple was not the place for the buying and selling of animals. These transactions should have taken place outside of God’s house. How could people seek the Lord in prayer with the clamor of buying and selling going on at the same time? In addition, Jesus said the “house of prayer had become a den of robbers.” Many who sold animals for sacrifice were overcharging the worshippers. This was never God’s design for his house or his people. Jesus let them know what he thought about their practices.

There have always been and will always continue to be people who seek to use God’s house and God’s people for personal financial gain. Although we don’t go to the temple to make sacrifices, we do go to church to worship, learn about, and serve the Lord. The church is not a place where people should peddle their wares, goods, and services. Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with supporting one another’s businesses, but we must resist any desire to look at God’s people through the lens of potential monetary profit. Let’s keep our financial ventures outside of the church, and let’s be careful not to encourage or support those who even unknowingly use God’s people for profit. If you attend a church that keeps Christ and his word as its focus, thank God for that today. If you don’t, then find one as soon as you can!