Today is Mondy of Holy Week, the week that starts with Palm Sunday, and leads us towards Easter. Each of day this week we’ll take a look at part of what happened to Jesus and reflect upon what is it teaching us.
Today on Monday, we look at Mark 11:15-17:
15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; 16 and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 He was teaching and saying, “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.”
Ok, it’s an easy joke, but always makes me laugh. When someone asks, “What would Jesus do?” Remember flipping tables and making a whip is alway an option.
But what is really happening here? Well, here’s the story behind the text. Worship in the temple called for different types of offerings. Bulls, goats, etc. But for majority of people (just like it would be for us) they didn’t just have a herd of cattle just hanging around for the sacrifice.
So when you would come to the Temple to make your sacrifice, you could purchase one. But then, like today, buying a bull (or even a lamb or goat) would have been too expensive for many people, so you could instead purchase a sparrow or smaller, more inexpensive animal to make a suitable sacrifice.
But here’s the thing. Roman money had a picture of Ceaser upon it, and he was considered a god by the Romans. So you couldn’t use idolatrous, pagan money to purchase an sacrifice for the temple. You exchanged your Roman money for Temple money that you then used to buy your sacrifice.
And of course, your sacrifice was way overpriced. And many time sickly an imperfect (while the law called for unblemished sacrifice). And of course, the money changers would skim off top and have terrible rates for exchange. And or course the religious leaders would get a cut of this.
So, what should have been a place where the people could come and worship and seek forgiveness for their sins, instead has turned into a system that would rob and cheat them, taking their (little) money, all in God’s name.
This is why Jesus drove them out. By the way, He drove out the animals, because He knew the people would chase them, that was their money. He never actually whipped a person, just drove out the animals.
He did this because God’s house is supposed to be a place where all can come and seek God, seek grace and forgiveness, and find the mercy of God. Not a place where they are taken advantage of.
Jesus came to bring complete access to God, He came to fling wide the gates of grace and salvation to all that would walk through them.
What drove Jesus today was that people were throwing roadblocks in front of people that were seeking God.
So today, are we really seeking God?
Are we helping others to seek God?
Because of Jesus, there are no roadblocks to God. Only freedom. Today, may we seek Him with that passion and freedom that we have been given. And may we do all in our power to help others seek Him as well.