Wrecking ball theology is prevalent right now. Some mix the predictions of Nostradomas with their favourite interpretations of John’s revelation and see what blockbuster-esque retelling they can come up with. It is like using Dante to decide our theology of the afterlife. It can really mess with you when you automatically assume that what is happening in the world around you has something to do with you. Most of all it will become completely absorbing and drive personal fear by adding to scripture what isn’t there. So how about we agree that during Holy Week, we focus on Jesus and what was happening to Him this week.
If we follow along in the Holy Week story, it is Monday and Jesus entered the temple Like A Wrecking Ball. If you are like me, you like to have a sound track for events.
Matthew 21 shows us Jesus cleansing the temple. Why? For what purpose? How should this effect us today? This is a lot of theology and opinion wrapped up in a messy messy plate of spiritual noodles.
“And Jesus entered the temple courts* and drove out all those who were selling and buying in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those who were selling doves. 13 And he said to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a cave of robbers!”
14 And the blind and the lame came up to him in the temple courts* and he healed them. 15 But when* the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children shouting in the temple courts* and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant. 16 And they said to him, “Do you hear what these children* are saying?” So Jesus said to them, “Yes, have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of children and nursing babies you have prepared for yourself praise’?” 17 And leaving them, he went outside of the city to Bethany and spent the night there.” Matthew 21:12-17
Here are some highlights
- Jesus obviously cares a lot about the church, there is a passion for what happens inside her gates.
- Jesus was upset about people being ripped off while coming to temple to make their sacrifice (worship). There were people in church (of all places) capitalizing on travellers who didn’t have the ability to bring their own sacrifice and needed to purchase while in Jerusalem. They jacked up the prices to make profit.
- After acting out what Zahnd called ‘prophetic theatre’ Jesus quotes Isaiah and Jeremiah. This sets up the actions of Jesus here not as a temper tantrum where He loses control of His emotions but as a prophetic act that would speak to the original audience in a profound way.
- He confirmed His identity to the chief of priests while quoting more Old Testament scripture. Is the Old Testament relevant? Jesus thought so.
So why did Jesus turn the tables and make His bold statement? In practicality He was defending the poor. In spirituality, He was performing a sign act and fulfilling scripture in the same form as the major prophets that His audience would have been familiar with. When we look at this verse properly it is tough to build teachings about ‘righteous anger’ or to condemn pastors who sell books and cds to pay the bills. More importantly Jesus was declaring to the world that He had arrived and was the avenger of the poor and the head of the church.
If these verses were to speak to us in our Covid 19 world, they would say; look after one another, don’t let your greed stop someone from existing to worship. They would also say don’t read into things something that is not there. Speak truth, love and repeat.