Vice President Mike Pence said last night, “We are beginning to see the glimmers of progress” in the fight to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the US and around the world. I watched the press conference and was also encouraged by Dr. Deborah Birx, the US coronavirus coordinator. She reported on hopeful signs from Spain and Italy, “where we see, finally, new cases and deaths declining.” As she said, “It’s giving us hope of what our future could be.”
All this because more people than ever are practicing social distancing. However, stay-at-home orders are also affecting many people in damaging ways. Some cities in China are reporting record-high divorce rates after stay-at-home orders were lifted. Pornography consumption rates in the US are up. Isolation is challenging those in recovery from other addictions as well.
This Holy Week, we will focus each day on what Jesus did that day on his way to Calvary and the resurrection. What does Holy Monday say to us as we are socially distancing on a level unprecedented in our lifetimes?
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
Our Lord entered Jerusalem triumphantly on Palm Sunday (Mark 11:1–10), then spent the night in Bethany (vv. 11–12). On Holy Monday, he cursed a barren fig tree as a symbol of the “fruitless” nation of Israel (vv. 12–14; cf. Jeremiah 8:13; Micah 7:1). He next drove moneychangers from the temple (Mark 11:15–18).
Then “the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them” (Matthew 21:14). He received the praise of children “crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’” (v. 15), despite the indignation of the chief priests and scribes (vv. 15–16). Then, “leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there” (v. 17).
Let’s focus today on Jesus’ cleansing of the temple. Five financial functions took place there during Holy Week, each of which incurred our Lord’s wrath.
Five reasons Jesus cleansed the temple
People came to Jerusalem for Passover “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). Since there were no banks along the way, they had to bring the money they would need to finance their trip to Jerusalem and back. (Some stayed in the Holy City for fifty days until Pentecost, which made their trip even more expensive; cf. Acts 2:5–11).
Three financial functions were performed at the temple which carried their own Greek designation but are translated into the same English term: money-changers.
One: Foreign coins had to be changed into local currency, which was the function of the kollybistes (the “money-changers” of Matthew 21:12).
Two: Travelers would typically bring large denominations of money for ease of transport, which had to be converted into smaller coins. This was the function of the kermatistes, (the “money-changers” of John 2:14). Continue reading Denison Forum – ‘We are beginning to see the glimmers of progress’: A Holy Monday invitation to the cleansing power of Jesus