Jesus went into the temple complex and drove out all those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers’ tables and the chairs of those selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of thieves!”

The blind and the lame came to Him in the temple complex, and He healed them. When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonders that He did and the children in the temple complex cheering, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?”

“Yes,” Jesus told them. “Have you never read:

You have prepared praise
from the mouths of children and nursing infants?”

Then He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there. (Matthew 21:12-17)

Was Jesus against commerce in a religious setting? Was he against profit? Did he dislike business? The religious leaders had decided that ordinary money could not be used in the temple area and insisted that it first be exchanged for special temple money. Only the special money could then be used to buy the only animals that the religious establishment allowed for sacrifice. Of course the religious leaders took a cut of the profits. Jesus’ words alluded to what Jeremiah had written: “Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching!” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 7:9-11).

Then, when the religious authorities criticized Jesus for letting the children cheer and call him the Son of David, he quoted a section of Psalm 8 to them—a section that had to do with praising God. The religious authorities had been upset because of the messianic implications of what had happened in the temple and what was being said by the children. Jesus just upped the ante and claimed not just to be the Messiah, but God.

There is nothing wrong with profit and doing business. A worker, as Jesus said, was worthy of his hire. But if it stands between a person and God, then it has to go.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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