astonished at his teaching

The story of Jesus cleansing the temple is familiar to me, but when I read it this latest time I noticed something.

Let’s take it apart and work backwards:

  • all the crowd was astonished at his teaching because it was fresh and new 
  • the chief priests and scribes feared Jesus because he was telling truth and it stripped away their power
  • priests and scribes heard and were seeking a way to destroy him because he just had to go
  • the temple had been made a den of robbers not obvious robbers, but cups that were washed on the outside and still filthy inside, and people who deliberately took advantage of worshipers
  • “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations.” was already establish as a holy idea
  • Jesus was teaching them he didn’t just pitch a fit and wreck the established order
  • Jesus would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple – Can we agree that it’s no great stretch to imagine this included mental baggage? LET IT GO, or go make it right, and then approach God with empty hands and a ready heart. 
  • he overturned the seats of those who sold pigeons at what I imagine to be inflated prices, because it was more convenient to buy Level: Basic than to bring an offering with you
  • he overturned the tables of the money-changers because, again, the reason they were even there was to take advantage of a need; things that should have been taken care of prior to approaching God
  • he began to throw out those who sold and those who bought in the temple – he pushed them back to their proper place
  • Jesus entered the temple in Jerusalem and he did so to clear up the clutter and the wrong attitudes that had encroached on that holy space

I’ve heard lots of good things about this passage, but somehow I had missed the idea that Jesus didn’t just clean up the temple and kick BAD people out and shout a lot. He upended what had become normal, and he explained. He utilized a teachable moment, and he wrecked the pay-to-play power system that had been established. 

In some ways he made offering sacrifices and paying temple taxes more complicated, which stinks for the poor people who had journeyed to Jerusalem to do right things. But in so many ways he showed how to simplify and clarify the process. 


Published by MeganFloyd

I'm a wife, mother, not-an-artist living in a barn in rural Alabama.

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