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Holy Week: Monday

Monday – Jesus in the Temple

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," he said to them, "My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers."

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant.
"Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him.
"Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read,
                        'From the lips of children and infants
                        you have ordained praise'?"
And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
- Matthew 21:12-17

Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, 'The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.
- Exodus 34:5-7

. . . It is now Monday, and the expectation of the crowd has now come face to face with the commotion of the city. Jerusalem is alive. Merchants wave their goods in the air, and men shout over one another hoping to grab the buyer's attention. The market is full of salesman, of travelers, and of exchange. And where there is exchange, exploitation is nipping at its heels.

Not all the crowd is corrupt, however. In fact, many are there to honestly worship and to fulfill the law handed down to them from their fathers and their heritage. See the man who traveled three days and two nights to offer a simple sacrifice. See the children who relish the clamor and clearly proclaim their king from the virtue of simplicity in their heart, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”  See the disciples who follow Jesus as his eyes survey the crowd.

His disciples are waiting on his every word and every action. They watch Jesus as he pauses for a moment amidst the busyness. And they are startled by his reaction. His eyes have drawn, His brow furrows, and his jaw muscles protrude from his clinched teeth. Anger is awash in his posture.

Perhaps it was the poor woman whose pigeon was taken from her hands – her sacrifice being judged unworthy for God.

Perhaps it was the sinister and menacing manner the money changer left the confused country shepherd robbed and unaware.

Perhaps it was the rising tide of what Jesus had seen too often and for too long:  God‘s house becoming an economy for plundering and stealing.

Whatever it was, justice is unleashed from within Christ as he topples the tables and sends doves flying free out of the temple. The fury of righteous anger is being administered, driven by a fire of love that cannot stand to see the poor manipulated.  Jesus’ brandishing arms strike out and say, “Be gone with evil; this is a holy place.”
Mayhem prospers as the temple market is turned upside-down.  Yet, even in the bedlam, Jesus wrath seems purposed and clear.  He unbinds a cage, sending two sheep running into the people – the hooves clacking against the stones.  He makes a whip and snaps it high in the air.  And like that, a tornado of disfavor is unleashed.  But, as quickly as it erupts so it concludes.  Jesus – with the eyes of thousands fixed upon him – lets go of the whip, turns, and faces towards the Temple itself, as if he were acknowledging someone there. 

He turns again, facing the people.  "It is written," he says, "My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers."  But, then he says no more.  Instead, he walks through them and goes to a corner and sits down next to a pillar.

After several minutes, his disciples gather enough courage to go to him, and it isn’t long after they draw near him that still others go to be with him.  And soon after that, the lame are carried to his feet.  Unbelievably, this volcano of a man is now entirely at peace, and with a gentle hand he reaches out and presses his thumb and index finger upon the closed lids of a man born blind.

But, even as he heals, men are now glaring at him – piercing him with their anger and bitterness.  A great snake has been struck.  It has recoiled, but it is even now preparing to strike.  Jesus’ actions are public, yet these men are running to speak in secret.  His disruptions are felt deeper in the walls of politics than they were in the streets of society.  Chief priests, scribes and men of importance are taking note of his actions.  In a system of corruption, there is no room for a voice of integrity.  

It is Monday. Justice is the passion that motivates his rebellion, and justice is removing the guilty from his presence . . . 


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