Jesus clears out the Temple

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Jesus clears out the Temple

Key quotation:-

“My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?  But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.”

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Jesus clears out the Temple

Why Jesus’ cleansing of the temple might have caused conflict :-

  • This is the only time that Jesus appears angry in the Gospel.  Perhaps it is because he coming to end of his earthly ministry and feeling overwhelmed by all that there is to do. Perhaps he is feeling worried about the coming days, or perhaps it just a natural reaction to seeing people being taken advantage. 
  • “He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the stools of those who sold pigeons” The Jewish leaders had made the Temple into a market.  The traders would have been furious to have their goods spoiled and their livelihoods disrupted by Jesus’ outburst.
  • The Sadducees would have been particularly angered by Jesus’ actions because they were in control of the Temple and Jesus is usurping their authority.  In addition, he showed them up for permitting trade in the Temple, the holiest site for Jews.
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Jesus clears out the Temple

  • “My Temple will be called a house of prayer for the people of all nations” Jesus challenged the Jewish belief that they were God’s chosen race and the Temple was exclusively for Jews, not for the Gentiles. Allowing anyone else into the Temple would have compromised its purity, in their eyes. 
  • The Jewish authorities would have been upset by Jesus reference to Scripture as they would recognise it – it comes from both Isaiah and Jeremiah. By quoting Scripture, Jesus was challenging the religious authorities on the way they ran the Temple. Bound to be angry by way he uses their Scripture to show them they misbehaving.
  •  “So they began looking for some way to kill Jesus.” The harsh condemnation of the Temple authorities infuriated them and made them all the more determined to trap Jesus.
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Jesus clears out the Temple

The significance of the reference for Christians today, particularly with reference to current issues of social and community cohesion :-

  • Jesus’ use of ‘house of prayer for all nations’ implies that everyone should be welcomed into the Church, promoting community cohesion.  Christians may find it hard to accept this teaching because certain extreme religions today make sure this does not happen.  Christians may also challenge enclosed order where monks and nuns retreat from every world in pursuit of private worship.
  • Some groups might not agree because opening up may mean they lose some of their heritage and identity.  Or it could dilute their heritage.  Some religious groups require ritual purity as part of their practice; this would be lost if just anybody could walk in and out of their holy places.
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Jesus clears out the Temple

  • Jesus made clear that all people should be welcome in places of worship.  This may raise questions in relation to charging tourists an entrance fee into places of worship. 
  • Jesus dislike of the traders suggest Churches should not have gift-shops. However, Churches rely on their profits from gift-shops to support the parish. Also, today places are regularly visited by tourists who often like to buy something as a memento of their visit
  • Jesus’ actions suggest that Christians should perhaps not have to pay for items that are necessary for their faith; e.g new translations of the Mass or rosary beads.  Surely they should be free.
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