Highway Robbery

Read: Matthew 21:12-17

“My house shall be called a house of prayer,” but you make it a den of robbers. (v. 13)

An angry elder once cited this story of Jesus driving out the money changers from the temple courts to chastise a music group for selling CDs in the church lobby after they helped lead worship. They were simply seeking gas money to get to the next concert. The elder saw them as thieves desecrating the church. For a moment, I thought their table would be turned and CDs sent flying! Calmer conversation brought resolution.

Why was Jesus so angry, anyway? It was not so much the exchange of money as it was the rate of exchange. A great injustice was happening under the authority of (and likely to the benefit of) the priests. Passover pilgrims traveled at great lengths and expense to offer their sacrifices at the temple. When they arrived, they could only offer animals certified by the priests to be worthy. These could only be bought in the currency of the temple shekel. Pilgrims came with Roman coins that had to be exchanged in the temple at temple rates. They replaced the prayers of pilgrims with profits in their pockets. Jesus wasn’t having that!

Not only did Jesus literally turn the tables, he turned the whole scene upside down. In place of profiteering sellers hawking perfect sacrifices, he welcomed the imperfect, the blind, and the lame and healed them. He still does. He welcomes the imperfect, the sinner, the broken. That’s good news for us, isn’t it? I know it is for me. Thanks be to God! —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, thank Jesus for welcoming you.

About the Author

jon opgenorth

Rev. Jon Opgenorth serves as president of Words of Hope. Previously, he served for 18 years as senior pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. In preparation for ministry, he received a BA in Religion from Northwestern College, and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary.

This entry is part 3 of 9 in the series Jesus Wins!