Why is Jesus saying this? This is the verse that precedes Jesus' statement:
Then they arrived in Jerusalem and Jesus went into the Temple. He began casting out the shoppers and merchants in the Temple. He overthrew the tables of the bankers and the chairs of those who sold doves. And he would not allow anyone carrying any merchandise through the temple. (Mark 11:15-16 DT)We can see from this description of Jesus' activities that he wasn't messing around. He was serious about this issue. So serious that he was turning over tables and physically tossing people out of the temple. The phrase "casting out" in the above translation (from the Devotional Translation) comes from the Greek word ἐκβάλλω (ekballō), which means according to the lexicon, "to cast out, drive out, to send out - with notion of violence."
This means this was no peaceful demonstration. Jesus was angry, and he was physically pushing people out of the Temple grounds. He was physically turning over tables and chairs. And he was physically blocking people from carrying their selling goods through the Temple.
Why is this? Why did Jesus get so upset? Wasn't Jesus a peace-loving passivist? Wasn't he an adherent of non-violence?
According to the description, it does not appear that anyone was hurt, though some might have been a little scuffed up. Jesus was not attacking people. He wanted the merchants out of the Temple grounds. He wanted the business to stop. Why?
Because the Temple is a place where the Supreme Being is to be worshiped.
And Jesus loves the Supreme Being. This is why his most important instruction was:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’" (Mark 12:30)Let's use an example. Let's say that you are wearing your wedding ring of your beloved spouse and someone comes up and offers you $10 for your wedding ring, right off your hand. How will you respond? You will feel insulted. Why? It's just a ring, right?
No. It is a symbol of your love for your spouse. It represents your relationship with your spouse. To turn that relationship into a commercial event - to sell your ring right off your hand to the first bidder - would be disgraceful.
And just think if your spouse found out you had just sold your wedding ring. It wasn't that you needed the money or anything. It wasn't that you didn't have other jewelry you could have sold. But you sold your wedding ring for cheap, just because someone offered you money for it.
Your spouse would be very upset. They would be upset because you thought so little of your relationship with them that you would just hawk the ring, even though you didn't need the money, and had other jewelry to sell.
This analogy gives us a glimpse of the situation for Jesus. The love between spouses pales in comparison to the love that Jesus feels for the Supreme Being. God is his Best Friend and Beloved. He enjoys an intimate loving relationship with God. And he lives to please God. This is why he said:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)Due to Jesus' love for God, the Temple is sacred to him. It is more than just a symbol of their love. The Temple is where his Beloved is worshiped.
But those who were selling on the Temple grounds didn't care about the Supreme Being. They obviously had no love for God. They were not considering the Temple grounds as being sacred. All they figured is that the Temple was a popular place, so they wanted to use that popular place to hawk their goods.
Yes, they certainly could have set up their tables and wares in the streets outside of the Temple. They could have respected the Temple grounds. But they didn't, because they didn't consider God's place as sacred to them. They simply wanted to use the Temple for their own purposes.
Yet today this very thing has occurred among the many sectarian churches throughout so-called Christianity. Churches supposedly built as a place to worship God are being used by their members to host bazaars, swap meets, yard sales, cake sales and many other money-making events.
These are organized or permitted by teachers and members who claim to follow Jesus. How could they claim to follow Jesus while they are doing the exact thing that Jesus got so upset about? The only recorded event in the Bible that Jesus becomes physically aggressive should indicate just how important this is to Jesus. Yet they completely ignore this as they hold their swap meets, yard sales and cake sales.
Oh, but they say the proceeds from the sale go back to the church. How is that? It goes to pay for the professional priests/reverends and the other professionals that are supposedly providing service to God.
If they are providing service to God, then why are they being paid? Why are they being compensated? Because they are not serving the Supreme Being. They are serving materialism.
If a church or any institution is run in such a way where the teachers are employed professionally, then it is not a place of service to God. It is a business. It is a money-making venture. A profit-center for the teachers and managers of the institution.
Any teacher who extracts compensation from their institution in exchange for teaching services is not a servant of God. They are an employee - exchanging service for money.
That is not the same as service to God. Notice that Jesus did not collect money during his teachings. He didn't extract a salary from his followers. He freely gave his knowledge without any expectation of return.
Yes, his followers did provide support in the form of food to eat, and sometimes, places to sleep. But this was completely voluntary. And Jesus didn't pack any of these donations away. He didn't buy a nice house or a farm off the backs of his followers' donations.
This is why, when Jesus sent his students off to preach, he forbade them to carry a purse or money bag:
"Do not take a purse or bag or sandals" (Luke 10:4)Then when they returned, he asked them:
“When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. (Luke 22:35)Why did Jesus forbid them from taking a purse or bag? Because he didn't want them collecting and keeping donations. It was okay for them to stay where they were invited to stay. But he didn't want them profiting from passing on his teachings.
In the same way, if church members were to provide a place to stay and food for the reverend or priest that would be one thing. But reverends and priests are being paid salaries, with which they can buy houses, cars, farms and make investments. This turns their service into a money-making venture.
And mirroring this money-making venture, these reverends and priests are all-to-willing to turn their entire church into a business as their members hold bazaars, yard sales and cake sales for whatever cause - abandoning the true teachings of Jesus.