Reading the Word
Matthew 21:12–17 (ESV)
12 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. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 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, 16 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’?”
17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.
Parallel Text: Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46
Understanding and Applying the Word
The Gospel of Mark puts the events of this passage on Monday morning. Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought. We are told that he overturned their tables and chairs and would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple (cf. Mark 11:16).
Based on Jesus’ words “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers”, the issue does not seem to be that there were money changers and those selling pigeons. Money changers were there to exchange currency so those traveling could pay the temple tax with appropriate money that lacked the image of pagan leaders. Also, those who sold pigeons did so for travelers who could not bring them on their journey. Jesus’ accusation that they were “robbers” indicates that the money changers and those selling pigeons were doing so at an unfair price. They were taking advantage of the people who had come to the temple for Passover week. It had become a place of profit rather than a place of worship.
The shocking and offensive part of Jesus’ action was that he claimed authority over the temple. He was in the domain of the chief priests and religious leaders, but he did not seek them out on this. He took control and pronounced judgment on those who had corrupted the temple and all it stood for. When the religious leaders confronted him about the praise of the children, Jesus quoted from the Old Testament and informed them that the children were doing what was right while the leaders had failed.
The religious leaders resisted and failed to understand who Jesus was. Why was that? Perhaps it was because they had their own agenda and they were committed to keeping it intact. They had positions of power and financial ease and it would have been hard to let that go, so they saw Jesus as a threat rather than as the Savior. The blind, the lame, the poor, the desperate, and the children had no agenda to protect. They simply trusted in Jesus based on what he said and all that he did. What is it that might be holding you back from turning to Jesus? Is it because the cost would be too high? Know that there is nothing in this world that is of greater value than knowing and being known by Jesus, the Messiah.
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