Mar. 27, 2013
When Jesus entered the temple, he threw out those who were selling things there. He said to them, “It’s written, My House will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a hideout for crooks.”
Jesus’ tolerance for things changed Holy Week. He no longer accepted folks taking advantage of this Father’s house.
Thousands of Jews were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. They would all go to the Temple to worship, which was the most holy site for a Jewish person. But to enter the Temple, each person needed a special Temple coin, usually only available for purchase at the Temple market stalls. The coin was only supposed to be the value of a day’s wages. But during Passover, inflation took over. Vendors increased their exchange rates considerably making it difficult for the average Jewish person to afford the Temple tax
Add to this, each family also needed to make a sacrifice of a dove. According to Hebrew law, the dove was to be unblemished. The only place to get official, certified unblemished doves was at the market stalls at the Temple. We can only imagine how vendors took advantage of folks during Passover.
Jesus often taught on the Temple steps while in Jerusalem. When I was there several years ago, it was moving to sit on the same steps where he often taught. Now, imagine Jesus being there and watching all these vendors taking advantage of ordinary Jewish folks … and the Jewish religious leaders simply turned their heads and ignored it. Maybe they were even getting a cut on the deal? Who knows.
What we do know is that enough was enough for Jesus. Jesus came to make God completely accessible for all people. As he nears his death, he only sees people taking advantage of those who really can’t afford special taxes and hefted-up prices. Can we blame him for running the vendors out of town?
Even within religious institutions today, there is often a fuzzy line of who is “in” and who is “out.” Are we putting too many restrictions and not practicing the kind of love Jesus endorsed? Throughout this Holy Week, I pray that we can try and emulate the kind of love Jesus lived and
So often, we want grace for ourselves and judgment for others. We want easy rules for us and hoops to jump through for others. Help us see when we are not fully loving as Jesus modeled for us.