12Then 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.” 14The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. 15But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became angry. (Matthew 21: 12-15)
On Sunday, Jesus was we received in Jerusalem but with shouts of ‘hosanna’, literally ‘save us’. These were shouts of lament to God and hopeful calls for revolution.
But, what did the people expect and hope to be ‘saved’ from?
- Perhaps, they desired to be rescued from the political system founded upon ‘Pax Romana’ (Peace of Rome). However, this ‘peace’ was enforced through brutal, violent suppression at the mere murmur of unrest.
- Perhaps, they desired to be rescued from the social burdens of being an oppressed and occupied people, without a land or nation of their own.
- Perhaps, they desired to be rescued from the depressed socio-economics that results from said political system and social burdens.
And yet, Jesus immediately enters into the temple. Jesus begins to chase out the money changers and those conducting business in the temple while flipping over their tables and shouting that they have turned the house of God, the house of prayer (temple) into a den of robbers.
Jesus was angry. His anger was righteous and just, for this economical system of the temple benefited the wealthy religious elite, while exploiting the average Jewish persons and inflecting spiritual abuse.
These money changers would exchange their Roman currency into the currency of the temple, but the exchange rate may not have been fair and just.
These merchants sold the items for the prescribed offerings of the people, particularly for those who had to traveled a distance in order to attend the Passover Festival, but their prices were not fair and just.
In the current COVID 19 pandemic, there are unfortunately persons who purchased significant amounts of supplies including toilet paper and hand sanitizer with the intention of reselling it at significantly inflated prices due to the limited supply and increased demand. This practice is not fair, it is not just, and it may result in harming the physical wellbeing of others.
Similarly, the money changers and merchants had the required means for the prescribed temple sacrifice. Therefore, these persons would exploit those who were desperate. It was not fair, it was not just, and it could result in harming the spiritual wellbeing due to their inability to afford the necessary sacrifice prescribed.
Thus, Jesus begins to rescue the people, not from Rome but the more intimate oppressing force, their own corrupt religious authorities and elite. Jesus recognized a need that the people may not have recognized when they were shouting ‘hosanna’ earlier that day..
May our eyes and heart be opened
to further understand our own need
for Jesus to save us (hosanna).