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The Whip: Strong Love!
Object Lessons in Faith
April 1, 2001
This event is troubling to many. And it should be!
The scene takes place shortly after Jesus' first miracle in Cana of Galilee, according to John's account. It was early spring, Passover time. Jesus travels with his disciples to Jerusalem from Capernaum. Once in the city, they head for the Temple. The magnificent structure sat on the highest point of the main area of the city. It soared some fifteen stories above the Kidron Valley floor to the east. But it wasn't the grandeur of the architecture or even the pageantry of the ceremonies that caught Jesus' attention.
The outer courts of the Temple compound (a huge area about fifteen football fields) had become a veritable shopping mall. Pens of sheep, goats, doves, and other sacrificial animals were everywhere. Moneychangers operated other tables. In one sense, all of these merchants provided a needed service. Faithful Jews were expected to offer animal sacrifices and financial gifts at the Temple. Pilgrims from afar found it more convenient to buy their animals in Jerusalem rather than transport them across the country. Also, temple offerings were to be made in local Jewish currency so someone needed to exchange foreign coins and Roman money for the appropriate money. All of this was sensible and useful.
But there were two problem. The main one was the location. These business operations didn't have to be in the temple compound itself. In fact, historians tell us that at one point they were set up across the floor of the Kidron Valley at the base of the Mt. of Olives. Imagine going to pray and worship and having to fight your way around cattle pens and over the normal messes on the floor. But the location wasn't the only problem. Greed had taken over. Three years later, Jesus would return to the Temple and repeat his actions (Mt. 21; Mk 12; Lk 19). Then he would complain that they had tur ...
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