Theme: How to Come to Jesus
This week’s lessons contrast the unbelief and unrighteous behavior of the religious leaders with the humble dependence of those who came to Jesus in faith.
Scripture: Matthew 21:12-17
And yet, I want you to see something else. In the middle of this story in verse 14, you find a number of people who did come to him. It reads: “The blind and the lame came to him at the temple.” And then in verse 15 the children were also shouting there in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” This matter of the blind and the lame is significant because according to the Jewish laws they could not come into the temple area. Anybody who was maimed in any way was not welcomed. They had to stay outside. And what about children? Well, who paid any attention to children? They were indignant when the children came. And yet, having cleansed the temple, having driven the money changers out, having put them all outside of this great courtyard of the Gentiles where all of this trade was going on, faced down by the King of glory with all his authority as Jesus is standing there alone in the empty courtyard, what happens? All of the others are put out, but the blind come staggering in looking for Jesus, and the lame, and the people helping them to get them to Jesus, and also the children running around singing, “Hosanna. Hosanna. Hosanna to the King.” That’s a great, great illustration of what happens. When our Lord turns his back on one he turns it in order to open the door of the gospel to others.
And we have seen it all along, haven’t we? We go back to that ninth chapter where we saw the calling of Matthew, and we realize that this was the beginning of that very important section with this healing of a man who was lame. It had to do with the forgiveness of sins. He came for physical healing and Jesus said to him, “Your sins be forgiven you.” Here was Jesus receiving the lame, and then here at the end, there they are in the temple courtyard. As far as the blind are concerned, we had an example of that just in the previous chapter. The religious leaders don’t see things correctly, and then God brings the blind to Jesus and Jesus heals them, and they see things correctly and they praise him. 
Concerning the children, you know back in the eighteenth chapter the disciples were disputing to find out who should be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. That’s what they wanted. Jesus said, “If you want to be great in the kingdom of heaven, you have to become like this child.” And he took a child that was there and he held him up. Not childish, not like children in all ways, but childlike in humble trust and dependence. Then in chapter 19, the little children are brought to Jesus and his disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them. For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Isn’t that a beautiful picture? Jesus rejected by the leaders and Jesus leaving them, but Jesus opening his heart and grace to the blind and the lame and the children and to all others who would come.
And there’s one other thing, too. This courtyard of the temple where all of this money changing and selling of animals was going on was the courtyard of the Gentiles. And if you go back to that text in Isaiah that I referred to a moment ago, Isaiah 56:7, you’ll find that the phrase Jesus quotes, “My house will be called a house of prayer,” goes on to say, “for all nations.” You see, by turning that courtyard into a place of trade, these Jewish leaders who should have been offering the gospel to the Gentiles were actually keeping it from them because all the Gentile could see when he came to worship the God of Israel was the trade that went on in his court. So when Jesus cleanses the temple he opened up the gospel, not only to the blind and the lame and to the children, but to Gentiles as well. And we are among that number.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Your body is the temple of God.” You see, we don’t have a physical temple and a physical courtyard today, but we do in the sense that our bodies are the temple of the living God, if we belong to Jesus. And I ask the question: What if Jesus should come today as he came to his own physical temple all those many centuries ago? What would he find in your heart? What would he find in your body? Would he find a body that is meant to be pure, a place for worship, a body which is given over wholly to him, something in which he could delight? Would he find a heart that is open to the gospel and wants everyone, whoever they are, and whatever they may have done in their past, to hear and respond to it? Or would he find it so filled with a love of things that he would have to say that he can’t even begin to use that person until Jesus first cleanses all the pollution that he finds there?
Before you answer that, let me say that it’s not a case of Jesus perhaps one day coming to visit us.  Rather, Jesus is visiting us even now, because he is with us and in us by his Spirit, if we are his. Is he pleased with what he finds? Can he delight in who you are? Or do you need to confess that sin and find forgiveness and cleansing which he promises to give if you will confess your sins to him?
Study Questions:

How did Jesus treat the religious leaders in our text, and why?
Give some examples of those who responded to Jesus rightly.  Describe the circumstances and why they were commended by Jesus.

Reflection: Why were the religious leaders assumed by the people to be right with God?  What were they really like in terms of the condition of their hearts?
Application: Pray for opportunities to share the gospel with someone who may be considered on the outside of people’s worldly respect or social acceptance.

Study Questions
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