Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, ‘It is written,
“My house shall be called a house of prayer”; but you are making it a den of robbers.’
The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’, they became angry and said to him, ‘Do you hear what these are saying?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Yes; have you never read,
“Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself”?’
He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.
Today we contemplate an act of defiance and radical protest that has reverberated down the centuries – Jesus overturning the tables in the Temple and releasing the doves to their freedom. It was one of the opening salvos of Jesus’ Passion, yet for the money changers this was probably just a blessed nuisance! I wonder who are the ‘blessed nuisances’ in our day and age? The Spirit inspired over-turners? And might we have the courage to join them? Or rather join the One who is ‘Blessed in highest heaven’.
As Jesus entered Jerusalem the crowd greeted him as the ‘blessed one who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Now Jesus enters the Temple – the heart of the city, the nation and the people’s faith – and acts out what that ‘blessed one’ is all about. In echoes of the Beatitudes that were the centre of his teaching ministry, he speaks up for the poor and exploited ones (Blessed are the poor). He grieves over the abuse and distortion of the Temple, a sacred God-filled place of prayer turned into a robber’s den (Blessed are those who mourn). In vulnerability he confronts the powerful (Blessed are the meek) and risks all to call out injustice (Blessed are those who hunger and thirst to see right prevail). He turns to the poorest and most vulnerable – welcoming the blind and lame – and brings healing (Blessed are the merciful). He welcomes the children too and their exuberant praise (Blessed are the pure in heart). And he brings down on himself an avalanche of anger and hatred which ultimately leads to a Roman cross – the Prince of Peace, turned Lamb of God (Blessed are peacemakers and the persecuted).
No wonder that after this act of uncomfortable blessing, Jesus needs time to recover and regroup. He slips out to Bethany, no doubt to the house of friends to eat and reflect on the next step in God’s work of turning the world upside down and right way up, God’s work of passionate love.
Hosanna to you, Son of David, Son of Mary, Son of God. Truly blessed, you show us what true blessing might mean:
Justice for the exploited, Welcome for all, Prayer that unites, Healing for the broken, Love in the face of anger, Truth on children’s lips, to humble the oppressor, Praise and amazement.
Come among us now and lead us into fervent prayer and joyful praise, renewed hope and determined action.
The Rev’d Terry Hinks, Minister of Trinity, High Wycombe and Cores End URCs