-by Pastor Jacob Marshall, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church
I’ll never forget that day. For years I had watched my Father leave to go to the Temple each year to celebrate the Passover. But now my time had finally come to go up with him. Coming up the southern steps and through the gates, we popped out on top of the massive Temple complex.
The large, open squares were full of people preparing for this week’s feast. In the outer courts, designated for the nations (non-Jews), we found an active market organized by the High Priests for all those streaming into the city. For the right price you could get all you needed: wine, oil, salt, and even clean animals for sacrifice. Plus, if you didn’t have the approved coins for the Temple tax, they even had folks who could give you the right currency, but at a cost of course… For the priests, their religion had become a booming business. It had made them incredibly wealthy, powerful, and, many like my dad would say, corrupt.
That’s when it happened! From behind me I heard a mix of yelling and coins crashing on the stone pavers, and turning around I caught the flash of a young man moving with purpose among the mob of people.
Next, a cheer went up from the growing multitude when, with a deft flip of his wrist, the young man started overturning the chairs of those selling doves and drove them out like a herd of cattle toward the exit.
From behind us a group of priests came running into the crowd to see what was the commotion. Stopping and out of breath at the sight of the mess, I heard one of them groan, “It’s him again.” Their eyes full of both envy and hatred. Had they seen this before?
The message was clear to all present. The market was now closed, and the Temple Mount was, for the moment, under new management. This huge facility (35 acres in size, and holding hundreds of thousands of people during the feast) was now captivated by a single man, one who acted like he owned the place.
The young man then turned to face the now thousands who were waiting to see what he would say. His voice rang out clear that morning. “Is it not written?”
“My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations.” And looking sternly at the priests gathered in the corner he continued, “But you have made it a den of robbers!” As he taught, every onlooker set in silent amazement at each word.
This young man, Jesus of Nazareth, was literally turning more than just tables upside-down. After he left and the crowd broke up, I looked up at my dad and asked what all this meant.
He said, “Jesus was explaining that this area of the temple was specifically set apart by God for the nations to come and worship Him. It’s sacred space, not a religious convenience store.” Then looking me in the eye he said, “God desires to reach and show his lovingkindness to all nations Jonah, not just ours.”
“Hmm,” I replied. “Well, if that’s God’s mission and with this kind of authority, it seems like this Jesus is going to reach the whole world.”
Now go and see it yourself in Mark 11:12-18.