On Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem “gentle and riding on a donkey,” but on Monday, he was anything but gentle. The Monday after the triumphal entry was havoc. When Jesus showed up at the temple, his anger was boiling over. He flipped over the tables and threw out everybody who was buying and selling in the outer courts.
“Jesus entered the temple courts 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.” - Matthew 21:12
I can't help but wonder, "What’s gotten into Jesus?" This isn't the children's version of Jesus we are used to. This isn't the soft-spoken Jesus with his robe nicely pressed and every hair in place. This is an angry, bold, and even harsh version of Jesus.
But why? Why was he so harsh? And why with these people? And why was this number one on his agenda after arriving to the crowds shouting, "Hosanna, Hosanna!"
The only way to really know is to look at what Jesus said in that moment: “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.”
This language wouldn’t have been unfamiliar to any of the Jews who were at the temple that day. As good students of the Scriptures they would have heard words like “house of prayer” and “den of robbers” as words that carried weight. Words that referenced the great prophets of Isaiah and Jeremiah.
Jesus was referencing Isaiah when he wrote:
“And foreigners…who hold fast to my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” - Isaiah 56:6-7
The House of Prayer, For the Nations
Not a house of prayer for the Israelites. Not a house of prayers for a select few. A house of prayer for the nations. It's a house of prayer for those who have been kept on the outside. It's a house of prayer for even the unclean.
That’s why Jesus was upset when he shows up at the temple. Think about the chaotic scene.
When Jesus started flipping tables, he’s was in the outer court of the temple. He was in the one place that was reserved for the foreigners. It was the only place an outsider could worship at the temple - the closest they could get to the presence of God. And it was being stolen from them by a group of insiders who wanted to make some money.
No wonder Jesus was furious. Jesus was upset because they ignored the mission outside the temple. Jesus wasn't upset about commerce, he was upset that they eliminated the place for outsiders to worship.
And so the tables went flying and those who were cast to the fringes of the community started showing up.
“The bind and lame came to him at the temple, and Jesus healed them.” - Matthew 21:14
The tables that kept the outsiders on the outside were thrown aside. The tables that kept the unclean distant were tossed out. Those who were on the outside were being invited in - to be loved, to be healed, and to have their sins atoned for.
What tables are standing between you and God?
Whatever stands between you and God, Jesus leverages his own life and authority to ensure that it won't stand for very long. Jesus throws to the side anything that stands between you and him.
This is why Paul writes in Romans 8:38-39:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In other words, nothing can separate you from the love of God. For those who are in Christ Jesus, there is no table that can stand in your way.
@@Jesus is greater than anything that tries to keep you on the outside.@@
Jesus is greater than any sin you commit and any shame you experience. Jesus is greater than your addiction. He’s greater than your abuse. He’s greater than the anger, the anxiety, the depression. He’s greater the sickness and he's greater than death.
No matter what tries to stand in the way, Jesus pushes it to the side because he’s come for all the nations - and he's come for you.