Sunday School Lessons


Commentary by Walter Albritton


April 6


Jesus boldly confronts evil


Mark 11:1—12:12

Key Verse: And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves.

        Mark 11:15


            All four gospels offer an account of Jesus’ triumphal entry on the day we call Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday. The gospel writers want us to understand that his arrival in Jerusalem was not happenstance. Rather it was a well-executed plan, directed by Jesus, in precise fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

             It was an important day for Jesus. Prophecy was being fulfilled. He realized that he neared the climatic end of his earthly ministry. The mission his Father had given him would be completed soon.

            His heart was no doubt deeply stirred by the tumultuous welcome of the crowd. The sight of happy children shouting “Hosanna” must have brought tears to his eyes. Obviously, he must have wondered how many of the people really understood the nature of his kingship. He realized even his disciples had not yet comprehended his mission nor his need to die on the cross for the sins of the world.

            The singing and shouting did not last long. After a night’s rest, Jesus moves boldly into the temple to confront evil and cleanse the temple. He makes no effort to appease the religious leaders in return for their favor.

            Instead, he overthrows the tables of the conniving merchants and throws them out of the temple. This is no “milk toast Jesus.” This is the King at work. This is a man with steel in his backbone, not Jell-O. He shows no fear of what they may do to him.

            Why did Jesus overthrow the tables of the moneychangers? He was not opposed to the tradition of bringing a dove as a sacrifice in worship. He objected to the way the poor were being cheated by those who sold them doves for an exorbitant fee. Clearly, the religious establishment was more interested in profit than in helping people to worship God.

            The people who came from other lands were not allowed to contribute their foreign money to the temple treasury. They were required to exchange their coins for the “proper” temple currency. So in yet another way the religious leaders profited from an excessive exchange rate.

            Jesus was sick of the whole business. He did not mince words. He told them they had turned God’s House of Prayer into a den of thieves! Sharp words, which inflamed the scribes and the high priests!

            Fearful that they will lose control of their positions and their sources of income, the religious leaders begin to plot a plan to kill Jesus. They will not tolerate this popular teacher who has challenged their authority and exposed their corrupt practices.

            Their evil plot escalates, resulting in the crucifixion of Jesus. Thus was God’s plan of salvation completed with Jesus becoming the lamb slain and sacrificed for the sins of the world. What men “meant for evil,” God used for good. The cruel cross becomes, then, the astonishing symbol of God’s power to turn defeat into victory.

            The example of Jesus confronting corruption should inspire us to go and do likewise. We should look first for the evil in ourselves and ask God to cleanse us of any motives that are unworthy of a servant of Jesus Christ.

            Within our churches, we must guard against using “holy things” for financial profit. We might start by examining our practices of selling everything from fish to camp stew to finance the Lord’s work, when tithing faithfully would provide all the money we need.

            We shall be wise to pray for our pastors and leaders, and insist on their accountability in handling funds. Satan works night and day seeking ways to destroy the church by corrupting God’s servants.

            If this scripture teaches us anything, it teaches us that God will not tolerate corruption in his church and he wants his people to strive diligently to make it truly a House of Prayer. + + + +