Matthew 21:12-17 —
12Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13“It is written,” he said to them, ” ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’”
14The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
16“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
” ‘From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise’?”
17And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
Monday of Holy Week brings us to the temple and Jesus’s overturning of the tables and money changers. In this we see a righteous anger from Jesus that we have not seen before.
This scene is filled with important themes: Jesus’s anger at injustice (the money changers were most likely set-up in the Court of the Gentiles and were therefore making it difficult for Gentiles to worship at the temple); and his challenge to earthly authority and institutional power (even… and especially… religious institutional power). This conflict also sets the stage for why the religious leaders want to arrest and kill Jesus.
But even more importantly, this scene paints Jesus in the long tradition of Old Testament prophets. This is what is known as an “enactment prophecy” (think Ezekiel, for example)– the act itself is the prophecy. Jesus is fulfilling all that had been written and spoken before him…
The Passion of Jesus… His cross… His death… His resurrection… is indeed about salvation for people. But it is not only about salvation for individuals. It is about much more — destroying injustice, fighting earthly powers and principalities, and redeeming all of created order.
This scene in the Gospels is a reminder that we should not be fooled by the King on the Donkey… He comes in peace, but is also a Warrior King who will stop at nothing to redeem his people, establish His Kingdom, and seek justice, righteousness and shalom.