Hebrews 8:1-9:28; Matthew 21:1-17
Jesus Enters the Holy Places
Today is the day we commemorate our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem amid shouts of joy. He comes as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9) with people welcoming him with words that indicate they believe in him. Many of these same people will be calling for his crucifixion just five days later. Rather fickle of them.
Matthew then records how our Lord entered the temple and turned over the tables of the money-changers. The temple was supposed to be a house of prayer, not a den of thieves. The Gospel of John recites Psalm 69:9 regarding the event, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” And yet, even for our Lord’s love of God’s house, he predicted it would be destroyed (Matthew 24:2). And it was about forty years later.
Hebrews speaks of a temple, but not one made with hands. The temple that was built under Solomon in the tenth century before Christ, and destroyed about four hundred years later, and the temple built in the sixth century before Christ, and destroyed almost six hundred years later, were mere copies, shadows of the heavenly realities which they depicted. For our Lord is “a minister in the holy places in the true tent, that the Lord set up, not man.” Christ entered the holy places through the “greater and more perfect tent, not made with hands,” and shed his own blood and not that of goats or bulls. This temple or tent that Christ thus entered is the heavenly reality of which the earthly temples that were destroyed were only copies.
Which is to say that we Christians celebrate the real thing. His blood really works for us, for his cleanses the conscience, something the blood of animals could never do. His blood is so effective for us that he only had to give his life once for all, not over and over as the priests had to do with the animals under the old covenant. His temple was his body (John 2:18-22). It was this temple that could never be destroyed, try as they may. So whether we speak of the temple of his body or of the heavenly temple of which he is now the minister seated at the right hand of the Father, he has now come and inaugurated this new and lasting covenant with his own blood, a covenant that will never grow old since it is founded on God’s promise and deals with the realities and not the copies. This was the plan from the foundation of the world. This is the glory that God reveals to us about Himself. His Son’s blood secures our forgiveness. And now, we await him a second time to gather us, who eagerly anticipate his coming.