This is the week that Christ entered the city of Jerusalem for the purpose of death on the Cross. On Sunday, He openly presented Himself as the Messiah by riding the donkey into the city. The Jews had long expected that the coming Messiah would do this, so those that saw the Lord on that day understood the clear-cut symbolism.
Another thing the Lord did was that He chased out the cheats and money changers that were milking the Temple system for profit in the Court of the Gentiles. For a long time, it had been permitted that merchants could provide services to the Jewish visitors who had come to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Passover.
After all, it was required that Jewish men living within twenty miles of Jerusalem take in this major spiritual observance. And, it was the goal of Jews at large to go there at least one time during their lives. But, when they came, they were expected to provide an animal for sacrifice, and to pay a certain tax that was intended for the Temple.
So, there were these services provided to help people traveling long distances to meet those requirements. Animals were approved to be fit for sacrifice by the priests, and the correct monies were exchanged for the tax offerings. In the beginning, this had probably been a legitimate service provided, but the system had long fallen into disgrace because of the cheating, the greed, and the profiteering allowed to go on. This was called the Bazaar of Annas, and was carried out in the part of the Temple known as the Court of the Gentiles. When Jesus went there, He chased out the evil merchants and their tacky and unholy practices.
But, there was something else He did. According to the Gospels, while He cleaned things up in this particular court, “He would not permit any man to carry any vessel through the Temple.”
Evidently it was known that people used the Court of the Gentiles as a shortcut between the city and the Mount of Olives. To the Lord, that was a disgrace to use the Temple for such a purpose. It was not showing proper respect for the Temple. A shortcut through the Temple was a definite no-no.
There is a definite message about this shortcut that should become clear to us. It is that we should be mindful to not take shortcuts in our religious duties. We should be careful not to take shortcuts in our relationships with God, with Christ, and the Holy Spirit. We should be dedicated in going the full route with worship, service, and commitment.
Do we not take shortcuts with our worship times for the sake of convenience? Do we not often take shortcuts with how we decide to serve Him for the sake of just being seen doing something? We stand guilty of taking a variety of spiritual shortcuts which, in essence, demonstrate a gross disrespect for our Lord.
We need to remember that our Lord did not take any shortcuts on His way to death and Crucifixion. He walked every inch of the Calvary Road. He bled every drop of Calvary blood. He endured every moment of Calvary pain.
When He could have walked in a different direction away from the Cross, He did not.
When He could have prayed His way out of suffering, He did not.
When He could have asked for the help and rescue of ten thousand angels, He did not.
When He could have given up and given in, He did not.
He honored the Father’s plan with His time. He honored His Father with His complete obedience. And, in due course, He provided a perfect Salvation with His death for our sakes.
Do not take any shortcuts with Jesus, because He purposely did not take any Himself concerning His Crucifixion. Go the distance with Him for His honor and glory.
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.