Tuesday, February 23rd
As a banker, this passage is all too familiar. A long-time customer loves to remind me that the Bible says nothing about his chosen profession, yet us money changers are featured prominently!
To me, Jesus’s message is twofold. First, the house of God is no place for business. We enter God’s house to worship and we should enter prepared to worship. It is obvious in the passage that Jesus was very angry with those who sought to make money by providing offerings for sale. What’s less obvious to me is the second part.
Markets have two sides. You have sellers that are profiting from providing a service to those who’ve arrived at the house of God unprepared, but if there weren’t customers, there wouldn’t be a market. Jesus was also angry with those who were just going through the motions and arrived looking for the easy way in. Sure, they could have brought their own sheep, cattle and doves to sacrifice. They also could have thoughtfully and prayerfully considered their monetary gift to God. Instead, they found it much easier just to buy a sacrifice and make change once they arrived at the Temple.
Jesus seems to be saying that there are no shortcuts. You must arrive prepared and ready to worship God. Like passing through the eye of the needle, we must unburden ourselves of our worldly possessions as we enter God’s house and the more we have, the harder that will be.