Shuck and Jive

Monday, April 06, 2009

Jesus and Civil Disobedience

I am making posts on the last week of Jesus' life, according to Mark, with the help of Borg and Crossan, The Last Week.

On Monday, Jesus goes into the temple and overturns the tables.

15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves; 16and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17He was teaching and saying, ‘Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”? But you have made it a den of robbers.’

18And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. 19And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city. Mark 11:15-19
Here is my post from two years ago, Den of Robbers.

Here is the Jesus Christ Superstar interpretation:

While a good tune and entertaining, the clip as do most interpretations of this scene, misses the point.

This is not a case where Jesus loses his temper because he is mad that people are selling cupcakes in the church parlor. This is a calculated demonstration to bring to awareness that foxes are in the henhouse.

It is an act of civil disobedience, like trespassing on military property to protest the School of Americas. The key is the phrase, "den of robbers." You don't rob in your own den. You rob elsewhere and hide in the den. The temple has become a den for these robbers. Those who run the system and who are supposed to help the people are instead really ripping them off and then they hide under the cover of religion and piety.

A modern day example, would be politicians who are oh--so--religious and wear their Christian jewelry, carry big ass bibles, and pray to Jesus in church so everybody sees them. Meanwhile, in the real world, they pass laws to take away rights and freedoms.

Jesus doesn't like it.

1 comment:

  1. John

    I forget why I was talking about this passage recently (maybe a sermon?) but I found some evidence as to why the selling of animals and the money changers were in the temple. It seems that the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas were having a big disagreement so the Sanhedrin moved its meetings out into the market place. There is evidence for this.

    The animals were usually kept in the Kidron Valley but Caiaphas wanted to punish the merchants for allowing the Sanhedrin to meet in the market place. So he got his own merchants and money changers and moved them into the temple. (This part, except for keeping the animals for sacrifice in the Kidron Valley is speculation.)

    And just to make the story really interesting the money used to pay the temple tax was a Tyrolian half shekel. And it wasn't because the other coins had pictures on them. The Tyrolian half shekel had an imprint of Baal on it. It was because you could depend that this half shekel was real silver and didn't have base metals mixed in (like dimes and quarters today.)

    So Jesus was challenging Caiaphas.