Confrontation in the Temple

Steven Bouma-Prediger

READ : Mark 11:12-25

And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. (v. 16)

Imagine a homeless man stopping business on Wall Street. Or an angry intruder traipsing
into the Capital and shutting down Congress. Or a shouting trespasser interrupting a papal
mass at the Vatican.

Jesus comes to Jerusalem and heads straight for the temple – the center of Jewish
economic, political, and religious power. And for a time “he would not allow anyone to
carry anything through the temple.” In other words, Jesus brought business as usual to a
halt. No more money exchanged. No more animals purchased. No more sacrifices on the altar
outside of the Holy of Holies. For a time the entire sacrificial system was shut down.

In this symbolic act Jesus was saying that the temple was under God’s judgment. Because
the Court of the Gentiles had been turned into a shopping mall and thus was no longer a
place of prayer for non-Jews, because some nationalist zealots were using the inner courts
as a meeting place to plot the violent overthrow of the Romans, because the sacrifices had become a means to bolster ethnocentric pride and contempt of non-Jews – for all these reasons Jesus was proclaiming God’s judgment on the temple. But messing with the temple brings grave consequences. It could mean death.


O God, help us to realize that we meet you in Jesus.