As I get older, I find that I almost love going to the shore in the offseason more than I do during the summer. The difference is like night and day. No crowds, fewer stores open, more peace and quiet. It’s so much more relaxing when you don’t have to fight for a parking spot, or a spot on the beach. The shore in the offseason is more like what the shore is supposed to be—an escape to tranquility.
I imagine that Jerusalem during Passover was a lot like the shore at the peak of the summer season. Hundreds of thousands more people than normal, and tons of vendors and shops trying to sell ‘em something. A retail feeding frenzy.
The temple was supposed to be a place of tranquility, too—a house of prayer and worship. A quiet place to connect with God. But when Jesus enters Jerusalem, this retail frenzy has taken over the temple; it looked more like a market or bazaar than the house of God. And Jesus isn’t having it. He entered the temple courts “and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.” The scene must have been complete chaos. Anger and shouting, tables and money and animals flying everywhere.
This was the beginning of the end for Jesus. The plot against him now shifted into high gear. Mark 11:18 says that from that moment, “the chief priests and the teachers of the law began looking for a way to kill him.” I imagine the disciples freaking out as they watch this scene unfold. I can imagine them thinking, ‘There must be an easier way to stage a revolution and turn the world right side up.’
So often we want to find the easy way, the quiet and tranquil way. But if we choose to walk with Jesus, then we might find ourselves turning over tables, upsetting the comfortable, and doing battle with the sin we encounter in our own lives and in our culture. The struggle will be very, very real.
Let this scene in the temple be a reminder that walking with Jesus isn’t always a stroll through the garden. Often it is a dangerous, difficult, and strenuous road. But Jesus is walking it with us—and that knowledge is the source of true tranquility.
Prayer: Lord, kindle in us a righteous anger against the things that seek to take your rightful place in our lives. Remind us that you have not promised us an easy path—but you do promise to walk it with us. Amen!