Please Comment: Luke 19.41->

And when Jesus drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying,”Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace. But now they are hid from your eyes!

“For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will cast up a bank around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground, you and all your children within you; and they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

And he entered the Temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My House shall be a house of prayer;’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”

And he was teaching daily in the Temple.

The chief priests and the scribes and the principle men of the people sought to destroy him; but they did not find anything they could do; for the people hung upon his words.


4 responses

  1. I wrote a blog about this, about the same time it was posted, so maybe it can contribute my own understanding 🙂

    1. There’s a context though — not just a momentary impulse.

      The previous post: Jesus is coming into Jerusalem, openly being proclaimed as King of Judea. Here, as he enters the city, he is prophesying the future fate of the city.

      And saying, “Did not know the time of your visitation.” Of being visited — by whom?

      And then he goes directly to the Temple. Jesus has been in conflict with this institution and its adherents from almost the beginning of his career. This is where God was supposed to dwell — but was also believed to have left, when the first Temple was destroyed. Many of the Jews of his time consider that their God has not returned, since they have not experienced the blessings they’ve expected, as a chosen people, whenever the covenant between YHWH and themselves could be resumed.

      Malachi 3 may well have been on his mind: “Behold, I send My messenger to prepare the way before Me; and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His Temple. ‘The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight — Behold, he is coming,’ says the Lord of Hosts.

      “But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like fuller’s soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and in former years.”

      We know from the previous post that Jesus was familiar with Zechariah. It isn’t clear to me what day Zechariah was getting at, in his last line: “And in that day there shall be no more a trafficker in the House of the Lord of Hosts.” Certainly there needed to be ‘money-changers’ in the Temple for the purpose of carrying on normal activities; pilgrims from foreign lands would have the coinage of their home country, bearing pagan images, not kosher for sacrifices or donations.

      This is not business-as-usual, either. Could just any rabbi order the money-changers to leave, or set up to teach ‘daily in the Temple’? Jesus’ entry into the city was a claim to power; and his enemies haven’t yet called him on it.

      1. A couple of thoughts on the questions you ask at the end there, treegestalt:

        “Certainly there needed to be ‘money-changers’ in the Temple…” Yes, that would be needed, and they were there on a consistent basis. During the Passover time, however, there were also very large numbers of sellers of animals (mostly lambs for the Passover meal) and they were filling the court of Gentiles so as to leave little if any room for the Gentiles. This was a practice that was under the control of (and for the profit of) the Sadducees and was actually opposed by the Pharisees (one of several times when they would have probably applauded Jesus for doing what they didn’t have the guts to do).

        “Could just any rabbi … set up to teach ‘daily in the Temple’?” Actually, probably yes. However if they were not a known disciple of another rabbi they too would have been challenged just as Jesus was. We tend to look at this testing as very contentious, as it was, but it was also the normal way of doing things then. Rabbinical “discussions” would look very uncivilized to us modern western people. Shouting, challenging, even insulting were normal and expected (and such things are preserved in the talmudic writings, though cleaned up a little probably). So, in a very real sense, it was “business as usual”, though it would certainly get out of hand very quickly.

    2. An NT Wright quote I found yesterday: “There is a problem as to the general word we should use to describe what Jesus was up to. If we were to speak of Jesus’ ‘ministry’ we might envisage him as a Protestant pastor preaching from a pulpit. ‘Ministry is certainly too ‘religious’ a word to do justice to Jesus within the highly integrated worldview of first-century Judaism. ‘Career’ is better, but by contrast, it may seem too ‘secular’; we might find ourselves thinking of Jesus as a young executive on the way up. ‘Work’ and ‘activity’ are too general, and seem to spotlight deeds to the exclusion of words; ‘teaching’, also too general, makes the opposite mistake…”

      Something about what Jesus is doing, and/or the way he is doing it, has a great many powerful people seeking to destroy him. Ordering the money-changers and animal peddlers out to give him space? Or issuing a judgment that (say) animals sold and purchased in this manner are not (in a significant sense) the purchasers’ “own” animals, hence not appropriate sacrifices? Or giving some similar reason for ejecting them?

      Or, as other versions of this story suggest, reenacting Jeremiah’s judgment against the Temple itself.

      And/or, as King: Claiming authority over the Temple and its operations.

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