A blessed Holy Week to you all.
Today, Monday – the second day of Holy Week – we remember Christ’s cleansing of the temple.
Luke’s account seems ambiguous about the day the temple was cleansed, Matthew’s seems to place it on Palm Sunday, but Mark writes clearly that it happened the day after Palm Sunday. So, we’ll use Mark’s timeline, but quote from Matthew’s telling (it being the most descriptive).
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 babies you have prepared praise?'” And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.
Money-changers. When my family vacationed in Europe in 2009, our first stop was Italy. We had yet to turn our dollars to euros, so as we strolled down one thoroughfare near the Vatican, we came upon a money-changing shop. I did the math (so I thought), and figured the rate was not so bad, so I took the plunge. “No refunds” read the sign – a needed provision, I soon realized, as the true math of the situation presented itself to my mind. I’d been had. I felt stupid and angry. But apparently I hadn’t learned my lesson, for upon leaving Europe, I made the same mistake getting dollars for my euros. So when I think of the money-changers in the temple, that is my context.
It’s not so much that money was changing hands, but that the money changers were using their power and position to oppress and steal from well-meaning worshippers. This kind of thing has always angered God.
Upon Christ’s death four days later, the veil to the Holy of Holies in the temple would be torn in two, revealing the truth that God dwells not in a building, but in the world, and more specifically, in men and women of His choosing. We believers are now His temple: our minds, our hands and feet, our lips, our eyes.
So our temples must not be vessels of oppression, vessels of abuse and misuse. Our selves must be wholly devoted not to taking and destroying but to giving and healing.
Let us then employ our bodies, His temple, in such a way that Christ will be compelled not to turn over and cast out, but to enter and dwell and heal.