15 They came to Jerusalem, and he went into the temple and began to throw out those buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, 16 and would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple. 17 He was teaching them: “Is it not written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves!” 18 The chief priests and the scribes heard it and started looking for a way to kill him. For they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was astonished by his teaching. 19 Whenever evening came, they would go out of the city.
In our series following Jesus through Holy Week, we’ve come to the first of several difficult passages. Indeed, Jesus’ actions on this day have been interpreted by some as harsh, as brash, and as, well, unchristlike. We know, of course, that this ‘cleansing of the Temple’ took place to fulfill messianic prophecy (Psalm 69:9, John 2:17). On this day, the day after his late arrival to Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and found Passover-sacrifice-salesmen and bankers (called money-changers) extorting the common worshiper. These men knew that people would be coming from far and wide to offer sacrifices during the feast of the Passover, so they set unfair exchange rates between foreign currencies and charged exorbitant prices for sacrificial animals, namely doves. Seeing how his Father’s house was being used, Jesus became angry. He fashioned a bull-whip and whooped those bankers and salesmen right out of the Temple! He turned over their tables and kicked down their kiosks. Put short: He cleaned house.
He turned over their tables and kicked down their kiosks. Put short: He cleaned house.
In ancient Hebrew culture, responsibility fell to the firstborn son to learn his father’s craft, care for his father’s house, and carry on his father’s legacy. Jesus honored his earthly father Joseph by becoming a craftsman, for a time. But now it was time for him to see to his true Father’s house. “You will not make my Father’s house a den of thieves!” He shouted. Jesus demanded that God be honored, and that the Temple operate with fairness, equity, justice for all, so that all are welcome to worship. Compassion, after all, is more important than all of the sacrifices (Hosea 6:6). God’s business is the business of mercy. His home is a place of peace. His legacy is as the long-suffering God, patient, abounding in loyal love (Exodus 34:6-7). Jesus, his Son, knew that he must be about his Father’s business (Luke 2:49). As children of God, we too must carry on our Father’s legacy. Is there a way that you’ve cheapened church? Have you taken advantage of a fellow believer? Or perhaps in your own home you’ve not honored God as Father. Maybe it’s time for some spiritual spring cleaning!
Maybe it’s time for some spiritual spring cleaning!