When Jesus Got Mad

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Passover 28 A.D. This time of year, all Jewish men crowded Jerusalem, even those living outside the country. Often, whole families joined the pilgrimage, causing the city’s population of 25,000 to swell four-fold. Every room in every inn and hostel was filled to capacity. The walled capital teemed with citizens and pilgrims flooding in to commemorate a miraculous escape from slavery 1500 years prior. 

The epicenter of the Passover activities was the walled enclosure of Herod’s breathtaking temple. This holy site, a testament to Yahweh’s interaction with man, was not only a marvel of architecture but also evidence of God’s divine visitation to man. Perched on the highest point in the area, this “Second House of the Sanctum” was one of the largest and most spectacular religious complexes in the known world. Anything on the grounds not overlaid with gold was gleaming white, causing distant pilgrims to mistake the temple mound for a snowcapped mountain. 

The temple courtyard perched on Mount Moriah like a giant boxed-in slab. Although the inner courtyard and Holy Place remained the exact dimensions of Solomon’s original temple, the current rebuild of King Herod extended the external plaza to over thirty acres. This outermost courtyard was double the size of the Old Testament enclosure.Now, the “Court of the Gentiles” provided ample space for both Jews and non-Jews to experience Yahweh.

The problem was that since no worshipper entered the inner court without some gift, merchants conveniently set up shop in the expansive yard. Some exchanged foreign drachmas and siglos for acceptable temple coinage. Others sold live animals for on-site sacrifice. Granted, travelers could bring their own offerings, but priests habitually found personal livestock unacceptable. The enlarged courtyard was the perfect breeding ground for making a profit. 

It was here, in the bustle of commerce, that Jesus watched. These sights and sounds were not new to Him. Since childhood, He had made the annual trek from Nazareth with His family. While hawking and bleating filled the air, Jesus’ mind returned to the first Passover. He’d been there, too, passing over all houses bearing covenant of the blood.

But it shouldn’t have resulted in this,” He agonized.

As the God-Man backed further away from the din of noise, His shoulder brushed the separator wall behind Him. This barrier stood between the outer and inner courts, obstructing all non-Jews from progressing closer to the Holy Places. Words He’d penned in the Torah erupted like lava in His Heart: “You and the foreigner are the same before God. The same laws and regulations apply to both you and the foreigner who lives with you” (Numbers 15:15-16).

Immediately, King Solomon’s request to Him added emphasis to the Truth bubbling within: “As for the foreigner who does not belong to Your people Israel but has come from a distant land…when they come and pray toward this temple, please hear from heaven (2 Chronicles 6:32).” 

Had He not answered through words divinely inspired by Isaiah? Could He have been any clearer? “As for the outsiders who now follow Me…I’ll bring them to My holy mountain and give them joy in My house of prayer. They’ll be welcome to worship (Isaiah 56:6). Yet, before Him stood a dividing wall, blocking the divine access He’d promised to all. 

Before Jesus stood stone slabs placed at intervals around the barricade; these left no question regarding the intent of the wall. “No foreigner is allowed to enter within the balustrade surrounding the sanctuary and the court. Whoever is caught will be personally responsible for his ensuing death.”

The Spirit in the Man boiled hot within Him. Not only did noisy distractions of greed and convenience make worship impossible here, but seeking Life was now punishable by death. How had religious stipulations trumped His promise of freedom to the world?

As righteous indignation exploded into emotion, this Man of Peace bent to snatch up binding cords discarded by the merchants. Even as He began to braid them together feverishly, He knew the time had not yet come to eradicate the wall. “But, this one thing I can do,” He seethed. “Today, I can silence some noise.”

(Based on John 2:13-16)

“Holy Jesus,

Thank you for desiring to draw all men to Yourself. More than cheating, more than avarice, and more than greed, You despise any barricade between us. You loathe dividing walls that block us from knowing You – even if the wall is religion itself. Even our division from one another saddens Your Heart. Thank You for Your passionate desire to remove distractions and deterrents to bring us close. You are our peace. Selah.”

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