This week we’re exploring how Christians can define a prophet, and whether Jesus considered himself one.  As he entered Jerusalem with some fanfare, people asked who was coming.  Some answered that he was a prophet from Nazareth. Clearly, he was called a prophet on this occasion.  He was also called a prophet at other times, and even called himself a prophet in his own hometown. Now, entering Jerusalem, he doesn’t stop anyone calling him a prophet (even though it was dangerous), and in fact he starts acting in prophetic ways:

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,

“‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”

(Matthew 21:12-16 ESV)

First, it’s important to note that the Jewish Temple was not the same thing as a church. It was a place that Jews came to encounter God, particularly to make sacrifices for their sin.  Others travelled here as well, but couldn’t come closer than the Gentiles Courtyard.  This space also had livestock for sacrifices, and was somewhere that anyone could draw near to God, if not as close as the Jews, their priests, or the high priest.

When Jesus arrived, he found people selling livestock, and money changers.  He specifically calls out those selling doves/pigeons.  These were used for the poor, especially women, who couldn’t afford better livestock, and many were being taken advantage of.  The money changers could change foreign currency to local currency for pilgrims to the temple, and at Passover there’d be thousands.  Gentile money had faces of emperors, many revered as gods, and these graven images couldn’t be used in the temple.

Those involved in exchanging currency, and selling livestock, were involved in lots of corruption.   For gentiles seeking an encounter with the God of Israel, this corruption was a terrible welcome.

Question: What problem do you think Jesus had with this practice?

Meeting with a Group?  Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide

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