Monday, April 2, 2012
Monday of Holy Week: Righteous Rage
One of the events that happened in the last days of Jesus' life, before he was arrested, convicted by the mob, and crucified, is the "Cleansing of the Temple". This is a story that many non-Christians may never have heard. It is one of the times when Jesus showed His anger at wrongdoing, and used force to implement His will. I have no doubt that He would have used similar force to protect the "woman taken in adultery" from being stoned to death if His persuasion had not been effective in convincing the men to drop their rocks and release her.
The gimmick of the day had been to use the space as a sort of Super Mall, with secular vendors hawking their wares at the very doors of the sanctuary. The priests were supposed to prevent this kind of thing but they'd become as complicit as the rest. Jesus took it on himself to do the job.
Here is the story as told in John 2:13-17, in the Good News translation:
"It was almost time for the Passover Festival, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. There in the Temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and pigeons, and also the moneychangers sitting at their tables.
"So he made a whip from cords and drove all the animals out of the Temple, both the sheep and the cattle; he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and scattered their coins; and he ordered those who sold the pigeons, Take them out of here! Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!
"His disciples remembered that the scripture says, My devotion to your house, O God, burns in me like a fire."
The incident is also related in Mark, Chapter 11, verses 15 through 19. Try this one in the English Standard Version:
"And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.
"And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
"And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. "
The illustration is a painting by Jacob Jordaens, circa 1650 AD. Jordaens was a Dutch painter who converted to Protestant Christianity while it was still illegal in The Netherlands due to the Spanish occupation (the only religion Spain recognized during that time was Catholic Christianity).