Riverside Community Church

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Easter Reflections – Monday

Today’s Passage:

Matthew 21:12-13

Click on the 3 horizontal segments of the above image for extra contextual information.


Thoughts from the passage

Jewish people knew the Scriptures very well so rabbis, especially with their disciples, often used a rabbinical technique called remez.  They would quote from a biblical verse, but what they were really emphasising was the rest of the verse or passage, which would immediately come to mind for those who knew the scripture.  In the temple Jesus uses this technique quoting from: Isaiah 56:7 (My house will be called a house of prayer).

The rest of the Isaiah passage speaks of God’s temple being a place “for all the nations”, where everyone was welcome, including Gentiles. But the temple overseers had expanded the area where the sellers and the money-changers were located into the Court of the Gentiles, so that the space allocated to non-Jews was decreased.  

By quoting from Isaiah Jesus was reminding the people that God wanted the Gentiles to be able to come to His house. He was appalled that they would make the Gentile Court smaller and thus inhibit them from worshipping. His righteous anger was directed at those who were getting in the way of the faith, and the opportunity to worship God, of someone they thought was lower than them, just for the chance to make more money.


Easter reminds us that the foot of the cross is level ground where we are all equal before God.  Jesus died for all and wants us to extend His grace to all.  Is it possible that sometimes we may stand in the way of others who are seeking God, or of believers whom God is wanting to draw closer to?

Do we invite all people into God’s house, no matter how different they are from us, or do we sometimes hold back from inviting someone?  Do we make everyone feel welcome in God’s house by treating each person with genuine love and acceptance?  Or are there people whom we do not make an effort with as God would want us to?  “As I have loved you so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). 


How does Jesus love you? Take a minute to think through, or journal, some words or phrases to describe how Jesus loves you.

Jesus said that this is how we must love one another. Is God challenging you by bringing someone to mind?  Respond by confessing any lack of love and acceptance, and ask Him to help you to love this person as He loves you.

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The Holy of Holies to the Court of Israel

Inside the tall building (top right of the picture) was the Holy Place which contained the table of shewbread, the lamp and the altar of incense.  A massive veil (up to 25m high) divided this space from the Holy of Holies, which only the High Priest could enter on the Day of Atonement.

Between this building and the Court of the Women, was an area split into two courts by a low balustrade.  The Court of Israel was for Jewish men only.  The Court of the Priests contained the altar for sacrifices and the laver for the priests to wash in.


Court of the Women

Jewish women could enter the first enclosed court (bottom right of the picture with the circle on the floor).  Women could, however, not proceed any further.  This court was 3800m2 (just over 60m x 60m) and could hold up to 6 000 worshippers.  At one end stood 13 trumpet-shaped containers for voluntary offerings of money.  This was where Jesus saw the widow who gave all she had (Mark 12:44).

Court of the Gentiles

The whole temple complex was 37 acres in size.  There was an area where Gentiles and non-purified Jews were permitted.  It was outside the high walls of the inner courts and a low barrier prevented Gentiles from going any closer.  There were signs in multiple languages threatening death to any Gentile who passed this barrier.

(In the picture, in the open area to the left of the inner courts, you can see the low wall only purified Jews could pass).