Yesterday, we embarked on the road Jesus walked to the cross, starting on Palm Sunday and climaxing at the empty tomb. Wikipedia explains that the custom of observing Holy Week began in the latter half of the 3rd century. So, during this next week, we want to join in this long Christian practice of following in the footsteps of Jesus as he completes his life on earth, dwelling with humanity.
Let’s look at what happened on Monday following that first Palm Sunday.
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “ ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there (Matthew 21:12–17, ESV).
Malachi 3:1-4 speaks of God’s Messenger recovering the true worship of God’s people.
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years” (Malachi 3:1–4, ESV).
As Jesus walks into the temple, in the court of the Gentiles, he immediately sees the money changers and pigeon pedlers. The place for the people of all the nations to worship God, the religious leaders transformed into a business center.
So Jesus drove them all out, overturning their tables (Matt 21:12). He proclaims from Isaiah 56:7 that “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
In this entire scene, we see the righteous anger of Jesus. When was the last time you took such a stand against evil and injustice? We probably don’t need to flip tables or crack a whip, yet there are times when we need to call sin exactly what it is—an abomination to God.
What’s worse, the religious leaders condone this terrible behavior. It appears that nothing angered Jesus more than the horrendous misleading of those who should know better. It makes me think about how I lead in the church and how I represent Christ as a believer. If you are a follower of Christ, you cannot turn a blind eye toward or, even worse, approve sinful acts and attitudes.
On this Monday, Jesus offers hope to those who want a relationship with God but find denied opportunities by other people. In this single act in the temple court, Jesus is announcing to the nations, “Come to me”! Today, Jesus is still offering that invitation to you and me. Let’s watch how this invitation continues to unfold throughout Holy Week.
Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Eric grew up in the little town of Gibraltar, PA with his grandparents. He met his wife Cheryl while working at Good’s Greenhouse in Bowmansville, PA. He has three adult children and values watching them grow into the people God wants them to be.