Monday - Four days. Wow! Who knew this week leading up to the Passover would be so eventful! Today at the Temple was unlike anything seen before. That strange man, Jesus, He upset the entire dynamic in the Temple today!
On His way into Jerusalem that morning, Jesus cursed a fig tree for not producing fruit. At that time of year, fig trees were full of leaves, but did not yet produce fruit. So why curse the tree? Jesus used it as a visual parable for His disciples. The tree represented Israel. Outwardly, Israel looked healthy, like the tree with lots of leaves. Also like the tree, Israel lacked fruit. Rituals and traditions had taken the place of heartfelt worship.
Upon arriving in Jerusalem, Jesus again went to the temple. It was bustling with activity. People coming from out of town needed to buy animals for sacrifice. They could buy the animals outside of the temple walls for a lesser cost, but they risked the animal being rejected by the priests. Buying inside the temple, at a much higher cost, was safer.
At Passover, the Temple required the people to pay a tax. It could not, however, be paid in the coin of the day, rather it had to be paid in temple gold. For a price, money could be changed into temple gold.
The temple occupied a large portion of the city, and the outer court was being used as a shortcut through the city by many. Going around the temple walls took much longer than going through the temple. The outer court of temple, which was to be used as worship by the Gentiles, had become a bazaar.
Jesus, who had observed these actions the previous day, sprang into action. He upended tables and benches. Money was scattered everywhere. Sheep were bleating, birds were cooing, attempting to get away. Jesus, with a whip made out of cords, drove the animals and their sellers from the temple courtyard. No more would the temple courtyard be used as a thoroughfare!
Mark records Jesus saying "Is it not written: 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'" (emphasis added, Mark 11:17, NIV; Isaiah 56:7). This seems to be foreshadowing the day when all will be able to enter the temple and worship, even the Gentiles. Until then, by clearing the temple, He has not only restored His Father's house to one of respect, but also ensured that the Gentiles, who many leading Jews looked down upon, would have a quiet place to worship the Lord. Once again, Jesus demonstrated that He came not only for the Jews, but for all mankind.
Jesus may have entered Jerusalem as a King, but that feeling among the people would not last. Before He is betrayed, there were lessons the disciples needed to learn and lessons the people needed to learn. The time was coming when all would be able to worship the Lord as equals, yet that time had not yet come. Until then, the Gentiles still need a place to worship.