Holy Week - Monday: Cleansing of the Temple

The Pain of Injustice (Exploitation of the Innocent)

Matt. 21:12-17

This is one of the most dramatic events in Jesus’ short ministry. The Temple was the center of the Jews’ religious tradition, history and worship, known for its beauty across the ancient world.  When Jews came to Jerusalem to observe the Passover celebration, they would purchase an animal for the sacrifice. The poorer the family, the simpler the sacrifice would be, such as a small bird (see Luke 2:24, Mary and Joseph in the Temple with baby Jesus).  The religious establishment sold these doves at exorbitant prices, shrewdly cheating the poor who were forced to buy from them. They had devised a system of deceitful money exchanging, since it was unlawful to purchase the sacrifice with Roman coins. Of course, their “system” was of great monetary benefit to them, but an enormous expense for the common people. This, then, was the sin that so angered Jesus. In verse 13, “You have made (My house) a den of thieves!”

Their sin was not in the selling of sacrificial animals, it was the fraud willingly perpetuated on God’s people by their own religious leaders. Jesus once again revealed the heart of God, Who hates deceit, corruption and greed. This incident should remind us of a sober truth: many evils have been done in the name of Christianity….the medieval Crusades, the Inquisition, religious pogroms, etc. These events may have been done by men claiming to do them in His name, but we can be sure that God had nothing to do with them.  Always God’s people have been exhorted to protect the needy and oppressed, the alien and the unloved. Jesus did that consistently in His interaction with men and women, showing us His love of justice and His care for those who are wounded, ignored or exploited.       

Prayer for Today: Lord Jesus, I pray that my heart would be Your temple, cleansed from its sin by Your presence. Purify my motives and my desires.

“Search me O God and know my heart. Try me and know my anxieties; see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way (Ps. 139:23-24)

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord my strength and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19:14)

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