The events of the week that began with Jesus’ humble-but-triumphant entry into Jerusalem and culminated with the crucifixion are unspeakably precious.
The overturning of the moneychangers’ tables in the Temple apparently followed His arrival in Jerusalem. Every one of His recorded acts during this pivotal week is spotlighted by the world-changing events that would subsequently unfold. This story of the cleansing of the Temple comes to our ears and hearts on its surface as revealing Jesus’ desire to re-establish God’s sacred intent for the Temple. To put the emphasis back on prayer and take it away from financial gain. “It is written: ‘My house shall be a house of prayer.’ — but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
This level of purpose comes across clearly. Perhaps nothing is more important in this world than prayer. But Yeshua was accomplishing more than this with His decisive and fearless disruption of the status quo.
He knew that He would fulfill the Passover later that week, once and for all, as the sacrificial Lamb for whom God had been preparing the way through the Temple’s sacrificial system. God had instructed Abraham to sacrifice animals. And the specific practice of sacrificing a spotless lamb at Passover had been divinely instructed as the Israelites prepared to depart from captivity in Egypt for the Promised Land. We remember John the Baptist’s clarion announcement: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” And Revelation’s describing Yeshua as “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.”
His overturning the tables that had been used for the business of selling doves and pigeons to Jews wanting to make ritual sacrifices signaled the end of the centuries-old sacrificial system. Fully knowing the price He would very soon pay to deliver Himself up to redeem lost humanity and restore us to His Father and our Father, no one was more appropriately qualified to upset these tables — notwithstanding the indignation of the Temple elites who stood by. This was His way of signaling the new and better covenant; the new dispensation of grace that He, the spotless Lamb, would provide through His voluntary sacrifice of His own sinless blood. He showed us in a way that we cannot forever miss how profoundly God loves every one of us. “For God so loved the world . . .”
Matthew 9:13 is a wonderful, instructive verse. The Torah teachers or scribes had just asked Jesus’ disciples why their teacher ate with marginal people like tax collectors and sinners. Yeshua the great communicator replied, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (NLT; italics added) This is a direct reference to Hosea 6:6, among other passages. Jesus revealed that God never liked the idea of killing animals to sacrifice their blood. But He instituted this practice to paint a picture of Yeshua’s ultimate atonement. Down the long centuries God had worked through a concrete example that He hoped would provide the clear insight to enable Israel, forever the beloved seed of Abraham, to recognize Yeshua.
In Dr. Brown’s The Real Kosher Jesus, he provides several rabbinic texts that speak of the atoning sacrifice of a tsadik (righteous one) as a means of saving the people. He points out that this concept is not a Christian construct; it had for centuries been part of Judaism. As one example, “. . . the Zohar states, ‘As long as Israel dwelt in the Holy Land, the rituals and the sacrifices they performed [in the Temple] removed all . . . diseases from the world; now the Messiah removes them from the children of the world.’ ”
In addition to providing several rabbinic sources for this fundamental Jewish teaching, Dr. Brown details discussions from rabbinic literature associating the deaths of righteous people with atonement. Miriam and the sons of Aaron are examples.
These insights help to clarify the initially-opaque John 18:14, among other verses, which indicates that Caiphas, because he was “high priest that year,” explained the need for one person to die for the people — as the dark events surrounding Jesus’ illegal trials unfolded. While Caiphas undoubtedly had his own misguided reasons for citing this Jewish teaching in support of the outcome of the bogus hearing that was perfunctorily extended to Jesus, Caiphas’ doing so clearly reflects that an understanding of the power of the death of a single person to benefit all the people was present in Temple instruction.
Dr. Brown’s life-long focus on sacred content that matters is deeply appreciated. Its power to enlighten our understanding is considerable.
Here’s a bouncy, happy song about some aspects of God’s holy love. Shira Harwood, Marian Iovino, Joshua Pearson and I recorded this in our basement. It’s been primarily written for children, but it’s been enjoyed by a quite a few adults. Listen, I’m sure you’ll be edified. We’ve included Scriptures to help your meditation.
Jeremiah 32:40-41 40 “I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. 41 “I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.
Ephesians 2:4-7 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with [the Messiah] (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in [the Messiah] Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in [the Messiah] Jesus.
Gave us Your Son
Romans 5:8 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, [the Messiah] died for us.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Give us Your Spirit
Luke 24:49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Galatians 4:6 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
With all Your heart, with all Your might – It’s holy love
Isaiah 6:3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
1 John 4:8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Holy love longs and Holy love calls and
Isaiah 44:22 22 “I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Jeremiah 24:7 7 ‘I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.
Malachi 3:7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’
Holy love sent His Son to find
John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Luke 19:10 10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Your love searches and Your love reaches
Ezekiel 34:11-12 11 For thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12 “As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day.
It’s holy love
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.
Holy love seeks and Holy love finds and
Luke 15:4-7 4 “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 “When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Holy love never lets us go
Your love’s strong and Your love holds on
John 10:27-30 27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 “I and the Father are one.”
Deuteronomy 3:24 24 ‘O Lord GOD, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Yours?
It’s holy love
1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
I’m being kept for You …
Exodus 19:4-6 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. 5 ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”
Malachi 3:17 17 “They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”
1 Peter 2:9-10 9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.
I’m being kept by You
Psalm 17:7-8 Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. 8 Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,
By You, for You
1 Peter 1:3-5 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus [the Messiah], who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus [the Messiah] from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
A good, good father is just like You
Psalm 103:13-14 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
Matthew 7:11 11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
Just like You, just like You are
Matthew 6:7-8 7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
You are… our provider
Genesis 22:14 14 Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.”
1 Timothy 6:17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.
You are… our strong tower
Proverbs 18:10 10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.
Psalm 50:15 15 Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”
2 Timothy 4:18 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
2 Thessalonians 3:3 3 But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
Holy, faithful, genuine, mighty love
Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,
Romans 12:9a Let love be genuine…
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.
David Harwood is a prophetic teacher and worship leader, and author of the book God’s True Love.