And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.
(Matt. 21:12-14)

A couple of reminders on this Palm Sunday:

Jesus did with the Temple’s traditions what he did with the money-changers’ tables: he turned them upside down. Matthew is the only gospel to mention this, but with the story of David in our heads we can’t miss the point in verse 14: the blind and the lame came to Jesus in the Temple, and he healed them. The people who had been kept out were now welcomed in. The people who had been scorned were now healed. It was an action full of significance. It summed up everything Jesus had been doing throughout his ministry.

Wright, T. (2004). Matthew for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 16-28 (p. 71). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

And this understanding of a particular phrase in this passage:

It isn’t the buying, selling and money-changing he’s objecting to in itself. When he says, ‘You’ve made it a brigands’ lair’, the word brigand doesn’t mean a thief. ‘Brigands’ were revolutionaries, people who believed so strongly in God’s coming kingdom of justice and triumph for Israel they were prepared to take the law into their own hands. They were the violent ones Jesus had commented on earlier in the gospel (11:12). The Temple itself, instead of being regarded as the place where Israel could come to God in prayer, had come to stand for the violent longings of the ‘brigands’ for a great revolution in which the kingdom of God would come by force. It was everything Jesus had opposed throughout his lifetime, not least in the Sermon on the Mount. Now his warnings against ‘the house’ were to come true.

Wright, T. (2004). Matthew for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 16-28 (p. 72). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Wright brings in a totally different perspective on the phrase “den of thieves” and goes the route of “brigands’ lair.”

The message, in Wright’s thinking, is this:

How might he best demonstrate that, in a powerful symbolic protest? By stopping the sacrificial system. If people couldn’t change money or buy doves, even for a short while, they couldn’t offer sacrifice. The Temple’s reason for existence was called into question. The healing of the blind and the lame said the same, in a softer mode. The ideology that had sustained Jerusalem, that of military might and conquest, would suffice no longer.

Wright, T. (2004). Matthew for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 16-28 (p. 72). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Wright concludes with these thoughts:

But for the moment we should ponder not only Jesus’ extraordinary and unique action, but the ways in which a similar revolution may sometimes be necessary in today’s world. Which institutions in your country have become corrupt, so that they now serve the opposite purpose from that for which they were set up? Where do you see systems which were supposed to enable people to worship and pray, but which have now turned themselves in the opposite direction to the message of Jesus? What can you do about it?

Wright, T. (2004). Matthew for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 16-28 (p. 73). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

This Holy Week is significant in the life of the American Church. For the past 5 plus years there has been warning after warning from the Spirit as the Lord has gone through systematically pruning, constantly exposing, and blasting out warning after warning regarding the weak state of the American Church. The American Church, as in the time of Jeremiah, has chosen not to listen.

The Lord is setting all this right again. The King has entered his temple. What the church worked so hard to keep out, the Lord is calling in. What the church tried so hard to bring in by force, the Lord is driving out.

The Kingdom of God is so much bigger than our small theology. It hasn’t been about “me and Jesus” and “how I can get to heaven” … but that is all we have made it in Western theology.

Jesus has come to remind us it is about the whole world. All of it. People. Creation. Systems. And he needs his church to get back to her vocation: setting this right again. It IS about institutions in our world… and in our churches. And we have refused to acknowledge it.

Now, the King of Glory has come in… and he WILL set things right.

Holy Week. It’s not about us… it is about HIM. His agenda. His Kingdom. His glory.

Clearing the Temple Courts: What Jesus Did About Systemic Injustice – Red  Letter Christians

One thought on “The King of Glory is coming in

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