PASSAGE: "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, and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He 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.' And 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. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city" (Mark 11:15-19).
QUESTION: The story of "Jesus and the Money Changers" appears in all four Gospels and is commonly referenced as the only time he was angry. It appears to me that Jesus was shining a spotlight on the financial trickery of a corrupt monetary system that still exists today. Do you see something different in this passage?
COMMENT: It is certainly possible to read this passage as you do. I wouldn't disagree, but I think Jesus was more focused on the religious and spiritual implications of his actions. The money changers were in the temple because Roman coins were not accepted and had to be converted into Jewish coins. The sellers of doves—as well as sheep and goats—were supporting the religiously perceived need for sacrifice to God. It's not the activities themselves I see Jesus opposing, but the underlying religious system that maintained a false understanding of our relationship to the divine. The God of Jesus' experience, understanding and teaching does not require sacrifice and subservience, but rather love and creative commitment.