Mark 11:17b  – (Jesus said,) “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations?’ But you have made it a den of robbers.”

Gratitude Day 733

Every year, I look forward to this week: Holy Week. For me, I feel it is the holiest week of the year. As the week winds through, I remember why I need a Holy Week.

Each day, I remember what we think Jesus might have done that day. Some days, like the last Thursday and Friday, of Jesus’ life, are very well documented. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday? It’s less clear.

At some point, he went to the bazaar that was considered part of the Temple’s holy grounds and created a ruckus. People were there, running their businesses and making money, right on these holy grounds. Because it was Passover Week, a lot of Jewish people were in Jerusalem. They needed an animal to offer as a sacrifice, which they might buy in this bazaar. If the people had traveled a long way, they might purchase other items needed for the Passover meal, rather than haul them to Jerusalem.

This area right outside of the Temple was a popular gathering place for visitors.  I imagine it being a place where people went right away, catching up with old friends and making new ones. It was loud and noisy. Think blatting sheep and clucking birds noisy. Everyone is looking for a good deal, which may or may not have been possible.  There are people who are trying to make their resources stretch as far as possible and still have a little money left over for the journey home.

Another challenge? The chief priests had a specific money that was used only in the Temple area. The common folks would need to exchange their money for the Temple money. This is why there were money changers in the bazaar.

Jesus was not happy with all of this commerce happening right in the Temple area. This was supposed to be the holiest of areas for the Hebrew people. What got Jesus’ goat might have been how the merchants took advantage of the travelers who were in Jerusalem for the Passover. The merchants would up their profit margins this week, ensuring that they would make a nice hefty profit.

Passover week was very good to them.

Until Jesus drove them off of the Temple grounds. Jesus knew their underhanded ways and it upset him.

At various times in the gospels, we see glimpses of when Jesus gets upset. But when he cleans out all of the conniving merchants during Passover week, well, he kind of reaches a new level. This is HIS Father’s house. And the space has been turned into a huge money-generating profit machine, taking advantage of travelers and securing money for the coffers of the Temple, all overseen by the Jewish chief priests.

No wonder the chief priests were determined to kill Jesus after he cleaned out the Temple. Revenge has an interesting way of tricking us into doing things that cross the line.

As easy as it is for us to be critical of the merchants and the chief priests when Jesus was alive, sometimes, we are just as sly as they were. We justify things in our personal lives, our professional lives, within the confines of the church and in society in general. We try to find ways to help us leap-frog ahead of the competition, make a little more money and make us stand out from the crowd. Some of us try pretty hard to make sure our actions are hidden from plain sight.

Yes, I am just as guilty of these things as the next person. I know where I have cut corners and where I have not been completely honest. Like so many others, we want justice for everyone else and mercy for ourselves.

But Jesus changes all of this. It removes the Old Testament laws and creates a new guideline: love God and love your neighbor. Do these, and everything else will take care of itself. 

Why was this lesson so important to Jesus in the last days of our lives? It’s impossible to love your neighbor when you’re cheating them. Or lying to them. Or trying to mislead them. Jesus is, once again, showing the ordinary people what’s crossing the line while making a point.

I’m not sure everyone else in the market that day saw the connection to what Jesus teaches and says and how we encourages us to live our lives. For Jesus, they are one in the same.

And this, my friends, is why we need a Holy Week.

There are countless lessons for us to take care advantage of in Jesus’ teachings. Here, Jesus wants to make it clear-as-day how we love God and love our neighbor.

And this, my friends, is why we need a Holy Week.

I won’t ever become perfect at loving God and my neighbors. But I can certainly make improvements in how I do this. I can look to Jesus and see how he does this over and over and over again. He picks his disagreements carefully and makes sure it’s a battle worth fighting for. Clearly, this is one he will not let go.

It’s not always easy to determine what challenges we let go and which ones we clean the Temple for.

One way we can begin to tell the difference?

We look at what Jesus did during Holy Week, which is exactly why we need a Holy Week.

Holy Week is the time of year we journey through the difficult last days of Jesus’ life. We hear all the difficult decisions and choices Jesus made; ones he made for OUR benefit. I pray we look at these choices carefully. And use those last days of Jesus’ life to inspire every day of our lives.

For Jesus commitment to teach us every day, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Lord God – I need a Holy Week. I need a time to remember what was most important to Jesus and the things he shared in those last days. Thank you for these days of Holy Week. May they be deeply meaningful for me this year. Amen.

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