When reading the gospels accounts of Jesus’ final days with His disciples Mark tries the hardest to put Jesus’ activities in specific date order. I’m not really sure why this is but his daily divisions are troubling to me. I’m trying to reconcile his timeline with the Wednesday crucifixion for the dividing day for the women to prepare the spices. I can’t because I’m NOT a scholar. I also find it interesting that those who do agree with the Wednesday crucifixion haven’t seen fit to put out a “Holy Week timeline” showing events from that point of view. I am NOT qualified to present one either and will not attempt to do so in our study time. Instead I will choose “exciting events” during Jesus’ time in Jerusalem that final Passover to highlight during our study this week.
We looked at Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem in our last time together. Now I want to look at Jesus’ preparation of the city to receive what God had in store. This would be His cleansing of the temple. We see this event recorded in at least Matthew, Mark and Luke. John includes this event too but scholars debate whether this one was enacted on a previous Passover or if it is the same one the other three gospel writers share with us. Honestly, we don’t know and it could be either way. John uses VERY LITTLE chronology in his presentation of Jesus’ story.
Matthew and Luke appear to have Jesus cleaning the temple on the same day He arrived for the week. Mark has Jesus visit the temple on the first day but not clean it out. He saves that for the next day. I don’t believe the “date” is as important as the “act.”
Cleaning the temple right away makes a LOT of sense to me. He was just hailed by the masses as King. His demonstration of cleaning the temple for God’s special work would naturally flow with the authority the “crowd” bestowed on Him. Talk about a way to get them on your side! Disrupt the dishonest procedures that are robbing the people.
So let’s look at His “clean-up efforts.” Jesus’ accomplished several things by cleaning the temple. The first was establishing His zeal for His Father. He didn’t go to the camel races and stop the betting happening there. He didn’t get indignant about the condition of the roads or those begging by the roadside. He went after those making a mockery of His Father’s house and His Father’s laws. He put an immediate stop to the money changers activities and those who sold sacrificial animals. Jesus removed the offensive items from God’s house. Mark tells us that He wouldn’t even let anyone carry anything through the temple. I’m assuming that means He wouldn’t let people with business on another area carry their wares through the temple as a shortcut. He allowed only those who were there to worship God to enter.
The second thing He accomplished was getting the people’s interest and support. This was supposed to be a time for the people to bring their best gifts to God. But these robbers were standing in their way. Nothing they brought was good enough and they were expecting to be “fleeced” by those in charge. Jesus saved them a WHOLE LOT of money by removing the thieves at the gate. The people were happy to see the money changers and sellers of sacrificial animals thrown out. Now their best could actually make it to the priests. He removed the corrupt intermediaries and opened access to the people. I’m sure they were grateful for His work.
The third thing it did was to enrage the religious leaders. They might not have been the ones manning the stalls but they certainly were the ones who granted permission to those who were. Jesus told them that their way of deciding who got “entrance” into the temple was over. At least for now, Jesus wouldn’t let them decide the “gatekeepers” based on who lined their pockets. “How dare Jesus question our authority! Who does He think He is anyway?!”
I wonder if the next day’s “gatekeepers” were actually doing the job God called for. Did the “robbers” return or did they clean up their act for the rest of the week? Jesus was in the temple daily. Did His actions impact them enough to keep at least this Passover season holy? Did His presence impact the others coming to the temple to come with a right attitude? Was His zeal for God catching? Maybe even for just a day?
Lord Jesus, is my heart clean? Are the “moneychangers” barring the way between You and me? I want to come to You with ONE purpose; to spend time with You in fellowship. I don’t want to come to “generate readership” or impress others. I want our time to be personal and meaningful. Forgive me for coming with wrong motives! Please clean my “temple.” Don’t let anything separate us!