Today's passages via BibleGateway
Exodus 12:14-13:16
Matthew 20:29-21:22 (Quaker Bible Index)
Psalm 25:16-22
Proverbs 6:12-15

George Fox (1674): Friends in the silence sitting there, in the Seed, can tell the states where there is a babe or a father’s growth, and out of the mouths of babes and sucklings God ordains praise [Mat 21:16, Psa 8:2]. My end is that there may be gospel order, and that which is tender and pure may be cherished, and the contrary kept down.

George Fox (1674): Friends in the silence sitting there, in the Seed, can tell the states where there is a babe or a father’s growth, and out of the mouths of babes and sucklings God ordains praise [Mat 21:16, Psa 8:2]. My end is that there may be gospel order, and that which is tender and pure may be cherished, and the contrary kept down.

Thomas Elwood (16–): For the Enemy came in upon me like a flood, and set many difficulties before me, swelling them up to the highest pitch, by representing them as mountains which I should never be able to get over; and, alas! that faith which could remove such mountains, and cast them into the sea [Mat 21:21 | Mar 11:22f], was but very small and weak in me.

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The passage from Matthew contains two of the episodes in Jesus' life that catch my attention because they seem out of character. Overthrowing the moneychanger's tables and cursing the fig tree don't seem to fit with the "let the little children come unto me" vision of Jesus that I was presented with as a child. Jesus didn't get angry or do "mean things."

As I've gotten older, those passages challenge me, though. What things are happening around me that I should be righteously activist to oppose--and how do I do it without being self-righteous, something that I see too often in my daily life both at school and church. The movie of "Jesus Christ Superstar" is one of those seminal texts that seeped into my soul, and the scene where the moneychangers are overthrown is one that I love--sometimes I need to overthrow a few tables to help people refocus on what matters most...wow. That resonants with me today because of a situation at my school...all the sudden, I feel a whole lot better about some actions that I'm taking that make me not seem like a team player, and I didn't see it in this context until now. (Yes, I'm rambling. If this type of response doesn't fit with your image of how we should discuss the bible, let me know and I'll ramble on my blog instead!)

Same with Jesus and the fig tree. For the gospel writer, why include a story where Jesus acted in a manner that seemed out of character for a loving teacher--what is the lesson that is crucial? I had something to say about that, but I'm still stuck on the money changers....maybe later I'll be able to come back to this!
I was surprised to read just how minor the whole money-changer table incident was, at least in Matthew. It's just a line. I can't get offended by the image of Jesus overthrowing their tables. I've met plenty of modern-day money-changers: those who cynically profit from religious devotion to the point of undermining the religious community. I think we should challenge their influence. The Friends movement was started in part as a critique of the corrupting influence of money on religion and we still need to keep careful watch and be willing to take the less personally profitable course if that's the most spiritual profitable option for the church universal.
William Herzog, in Prophet and Teacher: "Most of the commercial activity occuring on the Temple Mount was essential for the sacrificial system to work. Money changers changed coins into temple-approved currency... which allowed pilgrims to purchase what they needed to offer sacrifices. Nor is there any evidence that the money changers charged exploitive or onerous fees for their labors... As Sanders has noted, 'the business arrangements around the Temple were necessary if the commandments were to be obeyed.'
...
"Jesus interprets his actions by two appeals to the prophets (Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11.) Both passages are significant, especially if the citation of a part is intended to evoke a memory of the whole prophetic passage in which it is found...."

Anyway, he goes on to say that the two passages, taken together, suggest an attack on the Temple cult itself, as administered by the high priestly families in the service of Roman authorities, in a nation where added-on Roman taxes & commercial land-use practices were evidently ruinous to poor landowners which the Torah (Deuteronomy especially) was intended to protect. Which was also set up in a way which emphasized divisions & exclusions of people a la Ezra & Nehemiah rather than the wider vision of the Isaiah passage. "...But Isaiah imagines the Lord bringing in the exiles and outcasts to his holy mountain (the temple) where they will offer burnt offerings and sacrifices acceptable to Yahweh. It is this inclusive temple that shall be called "a house of prayer for all peoples. The contrast between the temple envisioned by Isaiah and the temple Jesus entered in Jerusalem could hardly have been greater."

Whether any actual violence occured is far from clear. There were plenty of Roman troops in a fortress overlooking the Temple, who stood prepared to intervene (in this period celebrating the freedom of the Jewish nation!) if anything had appeared seriously awry. But the prophetic action involved was shattering.

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