Knocking Over Tables in the Temple

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As I was reading a children's book, "The Story of Easter", to Amos yesterday, we walked through the events in Jesus' life leading up to his Passion. The moment in the narrative that gripped me yesterday occurred when Jesus entered the temple. A familiar story to many, no doubt, it's the "angry Jesus" - knocking over the tables of temple hucksters, trying to make a buck off of the sacrificial system. There are so many tables and vendors making noise and clanking their money coffers that Jesus confronts their injustice. Their very act of accommodating the imperfect sacrificial system was framed in greed and partiality. They were crowding out the Gentile and women courtyard, eroding the space where women and non-Jews were invited to come and pray. As he flips over the tables, he proclaims: "My house is a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a den of robbers."

What are the robbers filling up the temple of my heart? What are the tables crowding out love for the LORD and love for my neighbors? What are the noisy coins dropping in the bucket which drown out the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit? What is Jesus jealous for in the idol-factory of my heart? In what ways am I missing the big picture of what God wants in my life? Where am I seeking wealth and earthly security instead of contentment in the peace that comes in abiding in Christ and following his ways? In what ways am I neglecting justice and hospitality for the excluded and marginalized?

As Paul says in today's Lenten reading from Philippians 3:7-9: "But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage ("shit"), that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ..."


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