Tuesday, April 7
When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the merchants and their customers. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the stalls of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from bringing in merchandise. He taught them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a place of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. But they were afraid of him because the people were so enthusiastic about Jesus’ teaching.
I have to stop at the temple as part of my holy week journey. This passage has always had a profound effect on me. Jesus comes into town, hailed as king, and like other kings and generals who would come into town, goes to the temple, and as king, lays claim of God’s house.
What is significant is that the money changers and merchants were most likely set up in the outer courts of the temple, the Court of the Gentiles. Jesus is embarking on a mission which will fling open the doors of the new Kingdom to all people, not limited to Jews only. What has happened in the temple? The only place in the temple that non-Jews are allowed to be in is over run with merchants! It is probable that the merchants were selling doves and lambs for people to take in as their Passover sacrifice. What we end up with is “God’s people,” intent on keeping their religious rituals, who could care less if there is room for the “Gentiles.”
This bothers me greatly — I have seen churches that in a sense have filled up the outer courts with so much “stuff,” rules and empty religous rituals, that there isn’t any room for the outsiders, or any desire to make room for them. I was once told to leave a church because my “lifestyle was not good enough.” So is that the kind of kingdom Jesus lived and died for? I think not. Let’s start overthrowing tables, and make room for those who so desperately need in.