Holy Week Monday - A Holy King in an Unholy Temple
It was the time of the Passover. Jerusalem was filled to the brim with people, many travelers who were coming to worship the God of Israel.The people had heard about this Jesus who had just raised Lazarus from the dead and who taught with no fear of the Jewish or Roman leaders. Perhaps this was the Messiah!
They were ready for their Messiah, their King, to come and take his seat on David's throne, overthrow Rome and have all other nations bow at their feet. This would be their great deliverance.
The people shouted "Hosanna", getting right that this was indeed the King, but getting wrong the type of King he would be.
On Sunday, Jesus came into Jerusalem on a baby donkey, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9 and simultaneously declaring himself a humble King who would shed his own blood to make peace with God for all who would believe. Not exactly the military and political victory they were hoping for.
On Monday, Jesus showed another characteristic of his Kingship. He was also a holy King. Jesus took a peek in the temple on Sunday night and knew what he would find there Monday morning:
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.” (Matthew 21:12-13)
Jesus enters the place of worship and drives out all those buying and selling in the temple. Jesus is angry because the Jewish leaders have set up tables where they can make people pay extra money, a tax, to buy the necessary animals to sacrifice, and people who were buying pigeons were the poorest people. Not only that, but also many foreigners who worshiped the true God came from far away to sacrifice and worship during this Holy Week. So, the Jewish leaders seem to be making money off poor, foreign travelers. But, this is not the point of the temple. Here, Jesus is fulfilling Isaiah 56, a prophecy about how the salvation of God is for all peoples who will keep the covenant of God, listen to Isaiah 56:6-7:
And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
So, while the Jewish leaders set up a way to make money off of people’s worship, Jesus will not play along. Yes, he is humble and will die a humble death. But, he is also holy. He will not play favorites, but will stand against all sinful motives and actions, no matter who is behind them. There is no social status or religious status that wins favor with Jesus, only those who hold fast to his covenant. Jesus will be the ultimate sacrifice and offering to defeat the sin he despised so greatly and to bring all peoples from all demographics and all nations into his New Covenant.
Jesus is a holy King who stands against all sinful motives and actions and brings salvation to all peoples who will hold fast to the covenant in his blood.