Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "As With Gladness Men Of Old"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 21:12-13 – Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'" (NIV)
Halloween bags still held treats. The calendar had barely turned from the fall feasts. But the staff were there, clearing the shelves. Anything that looked orange, yellow, or black was marked down to move out the door. Fall had been supplanted, not by winter, but by "Christmas". I say "Christmas" in guarded fashion. What I saw had nothing to do with Christ. There was no hint of a holy night. There was no simplicity. There was no Silent Night to be heard. The empty shelves were waiting to be stocked with more stuff that could be bought and sold. Fall was gone. It had turned to make-or-break time in the commercial world. "Christmas" was what mattered now, and those shelves were not going to be stocking themselves. It was a flurry, not of snow, but of activity, that I saw.
I have always been uneasy about how to handle "Christmas" in a culture that has previously nodded towards Jesus Christ, but has now adapted a largely commercial tone to the season. Churches may fuss about stores rushing the season, but we may have even contributed to it by having a four-week season of preparation for it, called "Advent". Complaints about how commercial "Christmas" has gotten are as prevalent as the shmaltzy carols that blare over the store speakers. There seems to be no end to the commercial clamour that surrounds the "Christmas" season.
So, it is appropriate during this Advent season to consider today's scene of Jesus in the temple. There was a close connection between trade and sacrifice in that day. Sacrifices had to be purchased; someone had to offer animals for sale; someone had to exchange money to the proper coinage. Someone had to do it! Commerce seemed necessary.
Yet nowhere in all of Scripture do we see Jesus in such a rage! He is not just upset — he is livid! He cannot restrain His need to overturn this situation and what it implies. The trade has overtaken the reason that it was created; the exchanges have blurred the relationship with God that was to be the heart of the matter. It was as if salvation had been surrendered to the lowest bidder. Jesus, the One who knew best the true price of salvation, could not stand by and watch! Someone had to call them on it!
As we move through Advent, the season of waiting, anticipating, restraint, and expectation, may we consider well the cost that God paid on our behalf, and not cheapen it with trinkets and tinsel.
Prayer: Lord God, help us to see the priceless gift that You have given us. May all that we give remind others of Your generous grace and love. Amen.
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Good reminder, Leslie.
Thanks, Leslie, for this reminder of why we celebrate Christmas.
Well said. Thank you for this very timely and well-written message.
Well said, Leslie. Helpful and to the point. Your writing will help many this Christmas. Do write more.
I just reread today’s devotional written by you, Leslie. The parallel with Jesus in the Temple and our current culture was very thought provoking.
Leslie, thank you for clearly and meaningfully presenting what is in your heart regarding Jesus and the money changers and the scriptures relevance today. I appreciate bringing this to our attention and giving the reminders.
Awesome teaching. May we pray that these four weeks of ‘preparation‘ will be spent in prayerful gratitude for all the benefits we have received from Him, and not in frantic grabbing of ‘things’, and celebrations that really don’t reflect our Lord’s Presence. Thank you for this very timely reminder.
Thank you for this writing. I’m attempting to put together a service on the peace of Christmas and am finding very few examples in most preparations. I just realized that our advent schedule is pressure in itself. My thoughts will fall into place now. We can’t be like those stores and force feelings just because the calendar changes. Blessings of the season.
Amen, Leslie, amen! Thanks for bravely sharing. I’ve often wondered how Jesus must feel when He walks invisibly among our tawdry, gaudy, Winter Solstice celebrations that we misname “Christmas”…since, as you pointed out, what we celebrate shares not an infinitesimal resemblance to the Advent of the Christ as a babe born among us to free those who follow Him from the ravages of sin. Thanks for writing and sharing this devotional with us. Blessings this Advent.
Really appreciated your devotional Leslie. I have often struggled with the ever commercialization of Christmas, so much so that I have even stated that I hate Christmas and would be fine with the three ghosts from Dickens Christmas Carol coming to visit I hate it that much. However, after reading your devotional I realize that it’s the plastic version of Christmas that I really despise.
Thanks for the reminder. I am careful not to use the short form of Xmas as well, choosing to keep “Christ” in Christmas.
If you do not have a relationship with Christ, the season will indeed be only a time for the activity you describe.
How can it be otherwise?
Thank you for your clear, well expressed devotional. You have focused on the real “Reason for the season”, and His actions and words are a clear guide to us to be taken to heart. Thank you again.
Wishing you a blessed Christmas!
Good morning Leslie,
Thank you for your devotional on Dec, 1st The commercialization of Christmas is one of my pet peeves for sure, and it seems to get worse every year. The lights, the shopping etc. and then people say, “That’s what Christmas is all about” Oh really?. I wish it would change.
Blessings and a blessed Christmas.
I keep pondering “Christmas” Stocking.
I love JESUS so much and your words tug at my heart!
God bless you. I hope you write more!