One of the most often discussed stories of Jesus is his visit to the courtyard of the Jerusalem temple where he turns over the tables of the moneychangers. To understand the significance of the story, we need to realize that the money you used on the streets to buy your food had to be exchanged to coinage that could be used in the temple courtyard to buy an animal for sacrifice.
Here is the story recorded in Mark 11:
On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
There are several lessons we could take from the story. 1. Do not turn your religious institutions into financial businesses. 2. God is about a relationship not about religion.
The most important lesson from this text is often overlooked. Institutional religious leaders are very threatened by people who throw over the religious establishment. Notice in Jesus’ day, religious leaders feared Jesus because the crowd “was amazed at his teachings.” The crowd wants more Jesus; religious leaders want Jesus dead.
Ronald Friesen (c) 2015