Lent Devotional: Mark 11:15-19
by Jonathan Haefs
Mark 11:15-19 (click here)
And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” (Mark 11:15-17)
Not many churches have artwork hanging up of Jesus flipping tables and chasing people out of the temple.
Does this image of Christ make us uncomfortable? Do we like our Jesus domesticated… meek and mild and patting children on the head?
I think it is because we are not quite sure what to do with an image of Jesus’ righteous wrath… and this is because we try to make sense of Jesus’ actions by relating them to ourselves. We think about what it would be like for us to flip tables and clear out a space… and if we are honest, we don’t really like what we see. Our “wrath” is rarely righteous and always tends to be out of control. Surely Jesus isn’t like that.
Don’t worry… he’s not.
In trying to understand Jesus’ actions we are making a wrong comparison by relating him to ourselves. To put things in their proper perspective we must relate ourselves to the Gentiles in Mark 11.
The buying and selling of sacrificial animals was taking place in the court of the Gentiles. It was the only space in the temple complex where Gentile believers could gather to worship… and that area was being turned from a worship space to a marketplace. One could scarcely focus on prayer over the sound of sheep, birds, and bartering. In effect, the Gentiles were being barred from worship.
Out of love for you and me… Jesus cleared the way for all nations to worship the Father! This is what he came to do! To make a way for me and you!
Jesus’ actions at the temple are a small picture of the larger work he would do through his death and resurrection, namely, make a way for all nations to worship the one true God!
So yes… let’s hang up a picture of Jesus flipping tables! He’s flipping them out of love for you! He’s flipping them so there is a way and a place for you in the house of God. Flipping tables is kinda his thing.
He went to the cross and flipped the table of your sin to make a way to the Father through him! So come one… come all… a way has been made and a place for you has been created… we call him Jesus…
Let him flip the table of your life!