1. Have you ever backed out of your garage, driven about a block, and began to question whether you closed the garage?
2. How many of you have gone back to check only to find that you had closed it?
3. Has this happened more than once?
4. Did you close your garage door when you left home today?
Sometimes actions become so automatic that we don’t even realize we’re doing them. It’s like our minds are on autopilot.
5. When have you ever caught yourself going through the motions either at home, at work or during an important event?
6. What makes simply going through the motions so dangerous? (The activity has lost its significance. There is no meaning to your actions.)
In today’s study some practices in the temple had become so commonplace that the people failed to see the problems and carried on business as usual with no thought as to its significance or true meaning. They were only concerned with what they were doing and not the impact their actions had on others and their worship.
Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Sunday. So the events we’ll focus on today occurred on Monday and Tuesday before Jesus’ crucifixion.
Cleansed! Read Mark 11:15-17
The court of the Gentiles was the entry point for Jews going into their main worship area, the only area open to the Gentiles, and a very high traffic area. It had become a place for trading rather than a place of worship. A place for personal gain rather than a place to honor God!
Remember, this is Passover week, so there were many more people in Jerusalem than would normally be there.
1. What was actually happening in this area designed for Gentile believers? (Animals and doves were being bought and sold for sacrifice. For an animal to be used for sacrifice it had to be judged as perfect. Some scholars believe that as people brought their animals to be inspected by the priests they might be told it was not acceptable. In that case they would be offered the opportunity to purchase one that was acceptable. Especially this week, it was a very lucrative business.)
The money changers were there to exchange Roman coins for the Tyrian shekel. This was the coin required for every Jewish male to use to pay their annual temple tax.
2. What words would you use to describe Jesus’ emotions? (Anger or righteous anger.)
3. What did Jesus get mad about and how did He express that anger? (Anger at behavior that hurts people tends to be a godly use of anger. In this passage, Jesus stopped innocent worshipers from being taken advantage of.)
Jesus acted to stop wrongful behavior—stopping merchants from doing unfair business in the temple complex. It is almost like they had turned this area of worship into a stockyard!
4. What gradual steps do you suppose contributed to this transformation? (The buying and selling was part of the worship process of bringing the right kind of financial and animal offerings. The placement of the merchants limited access to the temple, especially for Gentiles.)
5. What did Jesus say was the proper use of His house? (Read Jer. 7:11 and Isa. 56:7. Remember Mark wrote his Gospel aimed at the Gentiles—“House of prayer for all nations.”)
6. What are some ways we gradually move away from approaching God with reverence? (We use our Prelude music time as a time to visit with each other rather than preparing our hearts for worship. We get up and move around in our worship service like we are at a ball game.)
7. Jews appeared to be going through the motions simply because they were Jews, not because they viewed the temple as a place set aside for worship. How might my “going through the motions” of worship hinder others from approaching God?
Feared! Read Mark 11:18-19
1. What response did the chief priests and scribes have to Jesus’ actions?
2. Why wouldn’t they do anything to Jesus at that time? (Jesus seemed to have the support of the crowd.)
3. Why might the scribes have felt threatened by Jesus?
4. What happens when someone begins to get into our “pocketbook”?
5. What might motivate them to seek to silence Jesus and His message? (With the following of the people a revolt against the scribes and/or Rome could come about.)
6. Do we ever try to silence Jesus’ message to our hearts?
Observed! Read Mark 12:41-42
1. What are some feelings and motives the worshipers in these verses may have had? (Notice there is nothing here that indicated any negative feelings or motives. They may very well have had pure motives and genuine feelings of worship and gratitude to God.)
2. How might the contrast between the rich people and the poor widow be deceiving to others watching?
3. What are some ways people might use religious practices to gain recognition?
4. Giving includes attitude, action, proportion, and motive. What else might be included in giving?
Some people give because they feel they “have” to give and don’t have a choice. Others feel they “get” to give to show their love and adoration for and to the Lord.
Commended! Read Mark 12:43-44
1. Why did the widow put more into the treasury than all the others? (Often believers use their personal lack of wealth as an excuse for not giving an offering to the Lord.)
Notice Jesus didn’t say anything negative about what the rich people gave. We don’t know how Jesus knew they were rich other than perhaps the clothes they wore.
2. What things do people trust for security?
3. How might those things get in the way of them trusting God?
4. What two tips would you share for giving in ways that honor the principles God’s Word teaches? (Tithe proportionally; give sacrificially; ask God what offering you should give.)
5. How much of your income belongs to God? (All of it. He gives it to us and we should use it in ways that honor Him in every way. How we spend is as important as how we give.)
Sacrifice in our giving isn’t measured by how much we give but how much we have left!
In cleansing the temple Jesus removed the money changers so that they were no longer a distraction for worship. In sharing with the disciples, Jesus revealed that the sacrifice of the widow showed a heart for worship much more than the rich people giving out of their surplus.
Summarize and Challenge!
1. What would Jesus clean from my temple?
2. What thoughtful actions in everyday life would Jesus call attention to as acts of worship?
Worship goes far beyond one hour a week but is a giving of our lives, as described in Romans 12:1-2.
What might Jesus call attention to in you—not to tell others but to continue that thoughtful deed as an act of worshiping Jesus!