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When we read about the events of Holy Week in the Bible, we would do well to pause and slowly ponder their significance. This week is, after all, the most significant week in history. As we take a brief look at Mark 11:15-19, I encourage you to close out all distractions and close in with Jesus. Let me warn you in advance, that this exhortation might sting.

“And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” – Mark 11:15-19, ESV

God’s people should have known, the temple was not just for the blessing of Israel, but for the blessing of the nations. It had been written! When Solomon dedicated the temple, he prayed:

“…when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name’s sake (for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel.” – 1 Kings 8:41-43, ESV

When Jesus enters the Court of the Gentiles, the place designated by God for the nations, he finds merchandisers. Jesus was angry, not only because God’s glory was being cheapened and His character misrepresented, but also because the very people He had blessed to be a blessing to the nations, had become an obstruction. How could the nations coming to worship not conclude that there was no place for them in God’s plan?
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The Church, specifically the people of God, is the new temple, and like the temple of old, shall be called a house of prayer for all nations. What has changed is that no longer are the nations invited to “come and see,” but the Church is commanded to “go and tell.” But I wonder, when Jesus enters the outer courts of our hearts, does He enter into a house of prayer for all nations?
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Nearly 2,000 years since Jesus commanded us to “go and make disciples of all nations” roughly 40 percent of the world still has no access to the Gospel. There remain 3,400,000,000 people who couldn’t hear about Jesus if they wanted to. So how many of our missions workers are even targeting them? Almost unbelievably, it’s less than 3%. What does our inaction say about us? Are we unimpressed at the stunning honor of making much of Jesus among the nations? I wonder, do we not know what has been written?
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Holy Week is a heavy week. It is a time for God’s people to contemplate deeply the price that Christ paid to purchase the nations for His glory. It is a time to confess our sins, our self-absorption, our apathy, our lack of passion for Christ, and the spread of His name and renown. It is a time to allow Him to overturn the tables in our hearts and to drive out the money changers. This will be painful, but I have learned that the wounds that Jesus inflicts always bring healing.
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This Holy Week, I am praying for myself and for all our partners, that our lives and our churches and our ministries would more and more reflect that Jesus is everything to us. I am praying that our prayers and giving and living would read like a love letter to Him, and they would communicate to the nations still waiting to hear, that He loves them and gave Himself for their healing. May we, His Church, be a house of prayer for all the nations.
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‘Til all have heard,

Matthew Ellison, President
Sixteen:Fifteen