Scripture: Matthew 21:12-17 Jesus at the Temple, turning the tables.
Yesterday we celebrated the triumphant entry into Jerusalem of Jesus and now He enters the temple to declare to the authorities their failure to live up to God’s covenant with them.
As you read this passage, I invite you to reflect on what it means to you today. Do our own authorities live up to what God told us to do? Is wealth shared equally, or are the poor still exploited as in this passage? How has the current situation we find ourselves in changed our own attitudes? How might you have felt if you had been part of that crowd?
A while ago I wrote a reflection on this passage, imagining I was one of the onlookers queuing at the temple. I feel it is apt to share this with you today.
I approached the temple, as I always did, clinging on to my money bag containing my taxes.
As I looked around, I noticed several other men doing the same thing. Only last week I had witnessed some vagabond swipe a man’s earnings and run off into the crowd, so I was taking no chances.
I waited my turn in the crowd, as usual. We moved slowly towards the temple. It was difficult to breathe in the heat of the day and the dust churned up by people’s feet, but at least my white robes kept me cool. As I moved along I saw a blind man also jostling his way forward so I went over to him to lend a hand. He was very grateful. Some women stood there with their baskets ready to sell their goods in the outer courts, and a man not far away carried a cage holding two pure white doves – I wondered how much money he owed to the loan sharks inside, or perhaps he’d just come to trade.
Finally, I was at the entrance to the temple. I stood directly behind another man who I barely noticed until we entered. Then he got all agitated and started shouting. At first I wondered what on earth he was doing, then he kicked out at a table, turning it over, and sent the goods and money flying everywhere!
People inside scattered in all directions. Tethered birds frantically flapped their wings trying to be freed, doves wildly flew about, men scrambled on the floor picking up coins, and animals scurried out of the door.
The man was still shouting. He spoke with some authority but I didn’t know who he was. He shouted out, “How dare you make my Father’s house a den full of thieves? A temple is a place to come and worship and praise Him, not to be turned into a cattle market!” I fully expected the authorities to come and arrest him, I thought he must be mad! But then, strangely, all the traders and tax men disappeared.
Then an incredible thing happened. The man turned to the blind man who I had led into the temple courts and gently placed his hands on his head. He stood with his eyes closed for a few moments and suddenly the blind man cried out, “I can see, I can see! Hallelujah, praise the Lord, I can see!”
Well, what happened next was marvellous. The man placed his hands on many lame and afflicted people and they were all healed too. Children cried out, “Hosanna, Hosanna,” and sang for joy.
But, without another word, the stranger turned and slowly walked toward the temple door. As he passed me I looked up into his face and for one moment he gazed back at me. I’ll never forget that look. It was love and peace and joy and warmth all rolled in to one. It was as if I had gazed upon the face of God. But who was he?
Jesus coming fulfils all of the Scriptures. He is the one with authority and it is through belief in Him we are saved – lets hold on to that belief as we continue to live in difficult times.
May God Bless us all.