On Monday of the Holy Week was the day to act and make the temple a holy place again. Jesus was going to defend his father’s house. The Courtyard of the Gentiles in the Temple area had been turned into a money-making scheme, which took advantage of the masses used to buy sacrificial animals and money to make their temple donations.
It wasn’t that Jesus was upset by economic activity. In his youth, Jesus and his earthly dad, Joseph, had made furniture to sell. What Jesus saw in the temple wasn’t hard work but rather scheming in the name of God to gain money without effort. Greed drove the temple leaders who used inappropriate power to earn money.
When Jesus arrived in the Courtyard of the Gentiles, he surveyed the scene to decide what to do next. He then gathered up some of the whips from nearby livestock booths. Next, Jesus called his disciples together, giving each of them a whip and telling them, “Follow my lead.”
Purposefully, Jesus walked to the closest booth, flipped over the table, and used his whip to drive away the livestock. Upon seeing this, the Twelve did the same to the other tables and booths. Then, some in the crowd joined in as well. The scene became quite chaotic as Jesus, the Twelve, and people from the crowd flipped over tables―livestock were driven out of their pens, pigeons were released, and coins spilled out on the floor.
The vendors raised their voices and yelled for Jesus and everyone to stop. Shoppers were left stunned and unsure of what to do.
On it went with tables being quickly turned over. At first, it was just a few, but soon, there was a sea of flipped tables. Looking across the Courtyard of the Gentiles, the scene had the appearance of rippling, as one table after another was tipped over. The mayhem started with Jesus and spread quickly throughout the courtyard.
Everyone else who was present was frozen with disbelief. The priests and merchants had been caught off balance mentally; they stood absorbing the scene and were unprepared to act. When Jesus was done, the Courtyard of the Gentiles, which once had tables and booths lined up in an orderly fashion, was a scene of chaos with loose livestock roaming the courtyard area and the wings of birds flapping. Money collectors fell to their knees frantically scouring the ground to pick up the loose coins. Jesus had put an end to the charade.
Image by Christina Gottardi