Monday, April 6, 2009

The House of Prayer

After Christ's triumphal entry the Sunday before His death, Christ spent the night in the home of Lazarus. The following day, He entered Jerusalem and cleansed the temple again, as He had at the beginning of His ministry. Matthew records the event thus:

"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?" (Matthew 21:12-16).

After that sarcastic little jab, the chief priests couldn't do much to stop the popular sentiment that was rallying around Jesus, and the plot to kill Him thickened.

Today, to celebrate the cleansing of the temple, I visited the Temple Mount, which is now controlled by the Muslims, who, ironically, won't let anyone take a Bible up onto the Mount (ask me how I know). But the Temple Mount is a beautiful, peaceful place of prayer.

I have missed being able to go to the temple these past three months, as I have been traveling overseas, far from the temples of God. I love the peace that is to be found in the temple. I love the strength that comes from performing ordinances there. I miss the reminder that temple worship gives me of my baptismal covenants, the feeling it gives me of being completely clean. I miss the communion with God that I find inside its walls. I miss the chance to leave the world behind for an hour or two, to leave my cares at the door and bask in the light of the Spirit. I miss being refreshed as I leave its hallowed halls. I love the temple, and though I will be sad to leave this holy city, I am thrilled that again I will be able to visit the holy temple.

On the face of each temple are the simple words, "Holiness to the Lord. House of the Lord." Reminiscent of the high priestly garb of Aaron, this inscription reminds us of the purpose of temples: to be God's dwelling-place on earth, a place where His Spirit can dwell, where His children can worship Him in a manner not available outside its walls. Inside the temple, we can perform sacred ordinances that bind us to each other and to God.

I think it is no coincidence that the last week of the Savior's life commenced with the cleansing of His house, His temple. I'll conclude with the promises regarding temple worship that most inspire me, found in the dedicatory prayer on the Kirtland Temple:

And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them; And from this place they may bear exceedingly great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the ends of the earth, that they may know that this is thy work, and that thou hast put forth thy hand, to fulfil that which thou hast spoken by the mouths of the prophets" (Doc. & Cov. 109:22-23).

1 comment:

  1. I really miss the temple too! I'm glad to hear your interpretation of "out of the mouths of babes". I was wondering about the context of that statement myself.