Jesus of Nazareth strode up the dusty Jerusalem street to the Temple of God, flanked by His fervent followers.
On the hilltop the Temple beckoned in deceiving brilliance. But His gentle heart flamed into righteous indignation as He drew near. He saw what He had feared.
Sin had occupied the House of The Lord. Greed was etched in the faces of the moneychangers who ran dirty hands through bowls of silver and copper. Herdsmen hawked their wares in the filth of their flocks. Vendors shouted raucously beside their pigeon coops.
Oxen bellowed against a backdrop of bleating lambs. He stood in scorn and viewed it all. The house of prayer was now a house of Mammon, and moneychangers cheated and lied and became the tools of priests.
No longer could He restrain His scorn. The gentlest of all men seized a knotted rope and lashed his way through the market place. He stung evil backs and upset benches of the moneychangers. Copper and silver coins clattered to the floor and rolled away. Greedy men bawled in astonishment.
Herdsmen stampeded oxen and sheep through the Temple doors and vendors tumbled to the floor beside upset coops. The babble drew others from nearby courtyards and the clamor rose at the sight of this man cleansing the Temple of God.
He stood majestically brandishing His whip and with the last of the moneychangers crawling from the Temple, loudly called after them: "My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of robbers and thieves!"
And suddenly the courts were cleared and there was peace.
Soon, in the new quiet of the Temple, there came the blind and the lame. Boys of the neighborhood, possibly choir boys, cautiously slipped in to see this man who had driven evil from holy halls.
The Chief Priests and Scribes of the Pharisees, drawn to the Temple by the act of Jesus of Nazareth, watched incredulously while He healed the afflicted. They frowned uncomfortably when little children cried and joyously shouted: "Hosanna to the Son of David!"
Indignantly the Priests called out to Him: "Do you hear what they say?" And Jesus answered: "Why are they saying this of me? Haven't you read in the Scripture: 'You have drawn praise from the mouths of children and infants?'"
And that silenced the Pharisees. But it taunted them and it was that night that they banded together and conceived the bribing of a betrayer --and the cross. It was a delicate plot to plan, for the people had accepted Jesus as the Messiah and treasured His every word.
On that day Jesus, weary and faint of hunger, walked near Bethany. He saw a fig tree and sought to satisfy His hunger. But the tree was barren of fruit and He grew indignant. He spoke that no more fruit would grow on the tree.
Matthew reported the tree withered at once. John told that when they passed it the next day it had perished. But in any event it could not suffer His ire.
Jesus told His followers it was but a lesson--that men needed to realize a simple faith, a faith in God which rests on Him alone.
He was trying to tell them that the fig tree was like Jerusalem, which, with its foliage, was magnificent in its welcome on the day of His triumphant Sabbath entry. But, actually, it had not received Him, did not understand His visitation and was as barren as the tree He had spurned.
And then He went to Bethany for a night of quiet.
Monday, April 06, 2009
Monday Before Easter: Day of Authority
This is an excerpt from The Immortal Story by Felix R. McKnight: