Monday of Holy Week

On Monday of Holy Week, two things happened. In two of the Gospels, Mark and Matthew, Jesus curses a fig tree. And in all four Gospels Jesus cleanses the temple. Let’s look at the cleansing of the temple since all four Gospels think it’s important enough to record.

It’s interesting to note that Jerusalem’s population during that time was around 80,000 people and swelled to over 2 million during the Passover (according to historians). Jews traveled from all around to be in the most sacred place, the Temple in Jerusalem, to worship God.

Part of the Jewish worship required animal sacrifice but these animals had to be “clean” as judged by the priests. Most Jews who had to travel from far away did not take a chance on bringing an animal that wasn’t fit for God. So the High Priest of the Temple allowed clean animals to be sold in the Temple courtyard. Doves were mentioned in Mark and were used by the poor, which was allowed according the laws of Leviticus. The more wealthy were required to sacrifice sheep, goats or bulls and the aroma was more “pleasing” to God. I always that that was weird, but, what the heck. He’s God and likes the smell of a good steak.

overturning tables

The moneychangers provided a needed service because the Jewish priests would only accept Jewish money. Jews came from all around and had different currencies so the moneychangers, for a small fee, would exchange their currency for Jewish money. It was apparent in the four Gospels that Jesus did not appreciate the priests allowing all of this going on in God’s house so he became violent and started overturning the tables of the moneychangers. And according to John, Jesus even drove them out with a “whip of cords.”

Also worth noting, the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew and Luke) tells this story at the end of Jesus’ ministry – the day after Palm Sunday. But, the Gospel of John tells the story at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Christian apologists try to reconcile this by saying that he cleansed the temple twice. And remember, John says that Jesus’ ministry lasted three years and the other three Gospels agree to ministry of one year.

Oh well, it’s a weird story but not as weird as Jesus cursing the fig tree. You’ll have to read the accounts in Mark and Matthew. I guess Luke and John thought it must have been too weird to tell or didn’t hear about it.

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