When Jesus came into Jerusalem on that holy week, He went to the temple and cleared it of merchants who’d taken up business there. The gentle King who came riding on a donkey’s colt showed His authority and strength. With force He cleansed the temple of the greed that had taken root; His judgment was severe: “‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘ “My house will be called a house of prayer,” but you are making it “a den of robbers”‘” (Matt. 21:13, NIV).
The picture is as simple as powerful; the religious leaders have gotten used to corruption, and Jesus shows the true heart of God–the place of prayer should not be a place of preying on the poor. The gentle King is also strong to drive out wickedness and protect the needy.
But the more we contemplate it, the more intriguing this episode becomes. For Jesus is the great high priest, and in His own way He is the greater temple–the meeting place of God and man. Indeed, He will in this same week replace the temple, by making Himself the true sacrifice to which all of the sacrifices of the Old Covenant pointed. He will render temple, priesthood, and sacrifices obsolete–for He is the fulfillment of all. He is the one by whom we pray and in whom we are reconciled to God.
In cleansing the temple, Jesus shows us the heart of God, who has provided a place of reconciliation for sinners.
Praise be to Christ, our temple, priest, and sacrifice.