Lenten Devotional: Monday, March 21

by Lisa Caine

Mark 11:15-18: Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.

On Monday, after his entrance in Jerusalem to shouts of “Hosannah,” Jesus went to the temple where he turned over the tables of the money changers and declared that “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations . . . But you have made it into a den of robbers.”

Where do you think Jesus might go today to clean house?  Certainly much of the institutional church could stand a good cleaning —  our hierarchies – and I’m not talking just United Methodist here – but church hierarchies in general – Catholic and Protestant, often seem more interested in self-preservation and maintenance than in doing the work of Christ on the forefront of struggles to eliminate injustice, discrimination, poverty, violence, and abuse.            And church members often seem more interested in ways in which they can be supported, entertained, affirmed and helped to maintain the status quo, rather than in hearing about the cost of discipleship; more concerned about the cemetery fund than in feeding the hungry.

But Jesus judgment goes beyond a critique of religion and the church.  N. T. Wright affirms that if we applied his message to today’s world, “it wouldn’t just be the churches that ought to tremble, but the law courts and legislative assemblies, royal palaces, and banking centres – the places where power is so often wielded to the benefit of the already powerful and the downtreading of the already powerless, the places where people with power or wealth turn in on themselves instead of outward in generosity towards the world.” (Mark for Everyone, p. 152)  Wall Street, please take note!  Politicians, please take note!  This, he says, is where Jesus would strike today.

What Jesus did that Monday at the Temple was not a cheap gesture.  It was not as some have dubbed it his “temple tantrum.” It was, in fact, the turning point, the climax of his whole career of teaching, healing, feeding, and loving people into God’s new life that he came to embody.  And this action led directly to his violent death.  But it was something he had to do.

It Was On Monday
It was on Monday
that religion got in the way.
An outsider would have thought
that it was a pet shop’s fire sale.
And the outsider, in some ways,
wouldn’t have been far wrong.

Only, it wasn’t household pets,
it was pigeons that were being purchased.
And it wasn’t a fire sale;
it was a rip-off stall in a holy temple,
bartering birds for sacrifice.

And the price was something only the rich could afford.
No discounts to students, pensioners, or social security claimants.
Then he,
the holiest man on earth,
went through the bizarre bazaar
like a bull in a china shop.

So the doves got liberated
and the pigeon sellers got angry.
And the police went crazy
and the poor people clapped like mad,
because he was making a sign
that God was for everybody,
not just for those who could afford God.

He turned the tables on Monday . . .
The day that religion got in the way.