Monday of Passion Week: The Zeal of the King
Read: Matthew 21:12-19; Mark 11:12-18; Luke 19:45-48
On the previous day (Palm Sunday), Jesus had made an initial visit to the Temple, being disgusted with God’s house being misused. This observation set the stage for His infamous, but necessary, cleansing of the Temple on Monday of Passion Week. Having shaken the whole city of Jerusalem with His very public, but “anti-climactic” entrance into the city on the previous day, Monday has no shortage of drama.
First, on His way back to Jerusalem, Jesus curses a fig tree, prophetically predicting the cursing of a nation (Israel), who “honors God with her lips, but whose heart is far from Him” (Matthew 15:8; see Isaiah 29:13). Upon re-entering the Temple, Jesus is once again exposed to the corruption taking place. There is buying and selling of animals for sacrifice, and the exploitation of the poor for profit. What was to be the central place for passionate, heart-felt worship to the One true God has become a robber’s den, and a house of merchandise (see John 2:16, His 1st cleansing of the Temple).
Moved by zeal for His Father’s house, Jesus overturns the tables of the moneychangers, throws out the corrupt businessmen, and teaches the people the true purpose of God’s temple. Jesus’ actions on this Monday lead to greater hostility from the religious leaders than ever before. No one dare challenge their authority, let alone the One (Jesus of Nazareth) who claims to be the long-awaited Messiah and King of Israel. From this point forward, they expedite their evil intentions to kill King of kings.