“Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13He said to them, ‘It is written,
“My house shall be called a house of prayer”;
but you are making it a den of robbers.’
April 2, 2012 ~ Monday of Holy Week
Matthew recalls this dramatic scene as occurring the day after the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In the Gospel of John, once they have gathered their wits in the wake of this event, the disciples recalled the words of the psalmist, “Zeal for Your house consumes me.” The tensions are rising in Jerusalem and the Lord’s days are numbered.
Nowadays we look askance at people who demonstrate this kind of reckless passion in the name of God. ‘After all’, we say,’ it’s just religion and nothing to get excited about.’ If the Lord tried something like this today we’d call 911 and have him locked up. Surely there must be something wrong with him. With him , or with us?
Could the psalmists words be yours or mine? When was the last time zeal (read, ‘passion’) for the things of God consumed you? Do you, indeed, live “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, or are you generally content with living by ‘bread alone ‘. The “house of prayer” during Holy Week will be sparsely attended at best. So much for “Zeal for Your house consumes me.”
If the money changers in the temple were a den of robbers, then so are the rest of us. For “the earth is the Lord’s” and we have stolen our existence from Him. I rest my case.
Once again, therefore, our dear Lord Jesus is on His own. If anyone is going to bring spiritual sobriety to the human race it will have to be God Himself. We are too busy staying drunk on the things of this world, inebriated by the myriad seductions of evil. So Jesus presses on toward His fate. The reason for His unwavering determination is simple: love. Jesus’ willingness to undure suffering and death was not the misguided endurance contest of a religious madman. He endured it because of love, God’s love – for you. And when this love overtakes you and you are grasped by the vastness of such mercy and grace, the words of the old Lenten hymn just might become yours;
‘Upon the cross of Jesus my eyes at times can see,
the very dying form of one who suffered there for me.
And from my contrite heart with tears, two wonders I confess,
the wonder of His glorious love and my unworthiness.’