Here we are a short time after Palm Sunday. Jesus on this day in history, is still in Jerusalem, and enters the temple, the Jewish house of worship. There he discovered that the temple had become a place of commerce. With great indignation, he astonishes everyone! Driving everyone out of the temple of God that either sold or bought. Charging the profiteers, as money changers and overthrowing tables. Admonishing them that His house was a house of prayer, but they had turned it into a “den of thieves!” (Scriptural texts:Matthew 21:12-13).
Suggesting that commerce was more important to the religious authorities than providing for the needs of the people. A condition that haunts and plagues Christianity today. A reading of the gospels combined with the gnostic gospels shows a Christ, who cared little about profit. His ministry was about providing for there spiritual and temporal needs.
In verse 14, we see Jesus caring for the temporal needs of the people. With the children paying tribute to Jesus, saying, Hosanna (meaning liberate us) to the son of David! verse 15. Instead of the religious leaders being pleased; they became indignant. Nothing has changed to this day. If it had, things would be very different. Religion is, and always has been about profit and oppression. The Christ, whose life we commemorate, paraded a different commemoration one of spiritual and temporal liberation.
This is just one event in a day most likely filled with other confrontations with the religious hierarchy. But if it was the only event recorded for us, perhaps because it filled his day, it was a full days work. Condemning greed, and self serving interest is always a hard days work.
What are we to make of these contradiction between Jesus and the religious authorities. The short answer is that the Christ of the gospels had nothing in common with the religious hierarchy. They were self serving their own interest for the sake of power and influence in the time of Jesus. It has not changed in our twenty first century.
The Christ we saw in Matthew was a man capable of anger. Willing to act upon that anger. Angry because money was more important than the practical needs of the people.
The function of the modern church should be two fold. First, it should be humble, and if necessary destroy the power structures that denies people their every day substance. Not meaning welfare dependency, but rather a fair market place for people who know the meaning of Genesis 3:19, your substance results from your labor and sweat. Meaning a livable wage pegged to inflation. So that when prices rise, so do wages. The government, and the nations corporate conglomerates would fight that to their death, and so should the body of Christ. But a great problem exists, many churches today would join the government, and corporate America in opposing such fairness. Making them today’s den of thieves. Resulting in the few, who know the purpose of a church to retreat in order to be regenerated spiritually for tomorrows battle. The Christ message is – change yourself and change your world – neither is simple.