The parade is over. The crowd has dispersed. What will one day be known as Palm Sunday has come to a close. The evening is setting in, and Jesus stops by the Temple before heading back to Bethany for the evening.
Evidently Jesus did not like what he saw.
And what did Jesus see? He saw tables filled with temple approved currency. He saw cages full of pre-approved livestock for sacrifice. He saw table after table filled with must have merchandise for the Passover Pilgrim. He saw lots of space dedicated to shoppers, and to merchants which left no space for worshipers.
So what did Jesus do with what he saw? After a night to think, and pray about it he decided to make more space for worshipers. He arrived at the Temple on Monday with a whip in hand to drive animals out of the temple. He flipped tables over sending money, and money changers scattering. All the while he quoted scripture at the top of his lungs, ‘My house will be a house of prayer; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’
So what was it about the temple that made Jesus so mad?
Pilgrims were supposed to be coming to Jerusalem to encounter God, not be gouged. They were supposed to be coming to worship not to shop. They came to bring their offerings, make their sacrifices, sing songs and pray prayers. But what the encountered were people out to make a profit. The pilgrims were told the animals they brought were not pure enough, but they needn’t worry the merchants had just what they needed, at a premium price tag of course.
Likewise the money they carried, money from the countries they lived that was stamped with images of rulers or gods from those lands, well that couldn’t go into the temple’s coffers. Thankfully the money changers were there to help take care of that problem, for a fee of course.
Jesus would have none of it. People wanted to worship God so Jesus removed the obstacles preventing them.
While it is odd for me to picture Jesus this way I like the idea that he wanted to clear a path for people to encounter God. I have been to very few churches that actually set up tables filled with things that have to be bought before people are allowed to enter, but that doesn’t mean we don’t set up obstacles.
Do we sneer at the single mother with a squirmy child? Do we cast glances at the person who walks in with shabby clothes? Do we constantly use words that no one outside of the church understands. All of these things and more scream you do not belong here. Which makes them tables that need to be flipped in our churches.
***Please note dividing events into individual days during Holy Week is up for interpretation. I am using a time line providing by Bible Gateway.***