Cleansing the Temple

In the last blog, we had a good laugh at a most bizarre scene where Jesus curses a fig tree. We wondered if Mark was trying to set up a message, and if so, this next story would be what it’s aimed at. So let’s look at Mark 11:15-19 and see how it might connect with the cursing of a fig tree.

So, Jesus goes to the temple. The pretty standard behavior for a Jewish visitor to Jerusalem. However, Jesus began to, “drive out” people who were buying and selling in the temple courts. He flipped over tables and chairs of the stalls, and wouldn’t let anyone take their purchased goods through the temple. I would like to point out that in this early version, there is no whip, no mention of anger, and Jesus has time to gather and teach people, which doesn’t suggest rage or other out of control emotions.

From the sounds of it, the temple had basically become a marketplace. Jesus’ problem with this is his understanding of scripture. Jesus quotes Isaiah 56:7, “I will make them happy in the temple where people pray to me… My temple will be known as a temple where all nations may pray.”

Thus, Jesus, approaching the temple, anticipated a place of prayer and Godly devotion, but instead found a marketplace. Not only that, but the passage specifically mentions selling doves. Doves were the lowest possible offering and would have been primarily used by those people who couldn’t use anything else, as established in Torah. In this way, the temple was forcing people to pay for that which was meant for people who did not have anything else. It’s demanding something precisely where Scripture had intended for something to be free. It’s injustice.

This injustice is further supported by Jesus’ second OT reference, Jeremiah 7. “Do you think this temple I have claimed as my own is to be a hideout for robbers? You had better take note! I have seen for myself what you have done! says the LordSo, go to the place in Shiloh where I allowed myself to be worshiped in the early days. See what I did to it because of the wicked things my people Israel did.”

It’s a threat, that God knows the wrongs being committed in His temple, and if they do not repent, they will be destroyed.

Image result for Jesus teaches at temple

Shock of all shocks, those individuals who were profiting from the marketplace at the temple, the priests, and scribes, decided that Jesus should die because he was messing up their sweet operation. This was Jesus’ plan all along. He knew it was going to upset those in power, and what the result would be. He warned us many times.

As for the relation to the fig tree, I see the title of the next section also involves it so I will wait until next time to discuss it.

Grace and Peace to you all.

The Controversy

ImageIt’s been so lonely without Aliza. I should never have let her go. I just got so caught up in the moment, and she kept indicating that I had done something, like she didn’t trust me, I just wanted to show her for betraying me like that.

One month has passed since our author began discretely leaving copies of his narrative around town for people to pick up and read. The whole city was in an uproar. The temple responded exactly as he had expected, they immediately declared the writing unclean. Religious police have been trying to go door to door to pick up copies to burn, but they haven’t been able to stifle the response.

It has been the poor mostly, those who have been the victims of retributive theology. The rich and comfortable can be happy with it, because their ruthless ways keep them rich and happy, which according to retribution means they must be pious and good people, coincidental to say the least. The poor though, they know the truth when they see it, because they are like me! They haven’t done anything wrong, but they are kicked and ridiculed for it, while the so called “righteous” take our measly earnings and land to reinforce their own holiness. It’s disgusting!

Suddenly there is loud banging on the door.

“Open up by order of the king of Jerusalem!”

Oh God! They’ve found me at last! Just stay calm, you don’t know that, they could just want more taxes.

“Coming!”

Opening the door, he sees two members of the religious police, as well as a Pharisee. The religious police speak first,

“Sir, is your name Job?”

“What? No! My name is Samuel, I have never heard of this, ‘Job’ person.”

The two officers share a look of skepticism before stepping across the threshold.

“Sir, you are under arrest for treason against the temple.”

“What!? What are you doing! Let go of me! I haven’t done anything wrong! It’s what I’ve been trying to tell you all along.”

“Tell it to the judge, pal”

“No! Don’t you see how far we’ve strayed from God? You’re more upset about offending the temple than you are of offending God! We have to change our ways! We have to repent and renew our loving relationship with Him before it’s too late!”

“Sir, making threats isn’t helping your case.”

“Oh bother, you’ll never understand… We are all doomed…”

At least my work is out there. It will make a difference. I have friends, supporters; they’ll get it to the countryside where the city will never find it. It will last, I know it. My message will get through to future generations! It’s done. What happens to me now doesn’t matter…