Jesus came to earth to help us paint pictures. He painted a picture of what God looks like. For some it is a surprise to be confronted with the painting of Jesus on the Monday of Holy Week. Jesus gets ticked off in the temple. Why? Because, Jesus says, the temple is a place for relational rhythms – for prayer. Not for commerce that brings advantage to some and not to others. Relationships suffer when commerce becomes the way in which entry to the temple is obtained.
Bringing commerce into the church is subtle. It can be as subtle as the clothes one has to wear in order to gain access or the education one needs to be accepted. When we make socio-economics the doorway to relationships we can expect a Jesus that becomes angry. His anger is not an end in itself. Jesus’ anger is a means to giving access to relationship for those who have been barred from the temple. Jesus is angry because socio-economics have determined who is in and who is out. Once Jesus clear the temple of this skewed socio-economic arrangement we read that,
“ … the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. ” (Matthew 21:14, ESV)
Those who couldn’t get access are now free to engage in relationship with Jesus. The tables and other crap have been removed. Today we remember this specific picture of Jesus. Jesus’ brother James picked up on this episode when he writes that,
“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? ” (James 2:1–5, ESV)