Day 2: Condemnation of commerce & spirituality done wrong
Week 15: 03/04/2023. Mon
Day 2's given passage was about Jesus, after entering Jerusalem by the eastern gate, cursing the fig tree, now condemning the misuse of the Temple. He "began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons" (Mark 11:15).
Exchanging money to aid temple tax payers, or selling pigeons to assist the poor folks to fulfill required sacrifices were providing a "useful service" for pilgrims. Jesus did not oppose paying of temple tax nor legitimate commerce, but rather doing these commercial activities at the wrong time and place–in the Temple and in close proximity to the activity of the "house of prayer for all the nations" (11:17).
Note that Jesus' condemnation was not only on those who sold, but also "those who bought in the temple" (11:15). The Temple had wrongly "transformed" from a place specifically built for prayer and drawing near to God, to become a shopping and merchandise mall, even a transport interchange hub ("he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple", 11:16).
Response (1): The chief priests and the scribes, those with vested interest in temple commerce, "were seeking a way to destroy him" (11:18). This response is wrong.
Response (2): Avoid being like the fruitless fig tree (11:12-14) and the prayerless & heartless worship activities. Instead, the passage highlighted the importance of fruitfulness in activities related to the temple. The temple should not house greedy leaders who officialised the activities of "den of robbers", to aid a limited few, abusing power, wealth and control.
REFLECTION: Keep in mind the temple was to manifest God's presence and people's worship of the wonderful God in response, for all nations and people who are willing to come sincerely. God drove previous generations to exile, Jesus drive out some too here, and even overturned tables. Purity requires drastic actions, the necessity of Jesus' death on the cross included.