Friday

15 June 2012

"My house shall be a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of robbers." (v. 46)

Background

In yesterday's passage, Jesus had entered Jerusalem to great rejoicing and cheers of acclamation as the Messiah. Now, as Jesus sees Jerusalem city laid out before him, he weeps. There would be judgement upon his city for their rejection of the king of peace. The temple had become a symbol for God keeping Israel safe. This was interpreted by the Jews in a political context, with a power struggle between the Romans and the Jews in which the Messiah would lead Israel to a military victory. This was not the intention of Jesus. Jesus had warned of the coming judgement if the Messiah of peace was rejected and now he weeps, for this judgement comes not from a place of anger, but from a heart full of love for his people who would not listen and did not accept.

When Jesus entered the temple he attacked the practices that he witnessed. Every male Jew had to pay a temple tax each year. This could only be accepted in certain coins and as there were many currencies in operation money changers were on hand. However, these money changers charged for the privilege and made a great deal of money from the pilgrims. Also, the animals bought for sacrifice had to be of a certain quality so it was far safer to buy animals from inside the official booths within the temple. But here vastly inflated prices meant that, yet again, money was being made from poor pilgrims. Worst still was that these booths were owned by the family of the high priest. Jesus here sees the house of God exploiting the poor and making money out of worship. By criticising what was taking place, he was deliberately attacking the actions of the high priest. And by attacking that authority Jesus was, in turn, declaring his own authority.

Following this, Jesus shows his defiance and courage as he continues to teach at the temple (verse 47), knowing that it will only be a matter of time before the chief priests and leaders find a way to kill him.

To Ponder

When we see exploitation of the poor how active are we at shouting out on their behalf, as an individual and as a Church?

Do you follow the example of Jesus and act with defiance and courage when living as a disciple? In what ways have you done this? In what ways have you struggled to do this? When does the Church need to act with defiance and courage? How do you think it should it do this?

Bible notes author: Meg Prowting

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