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THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY AND CLEANSING OF THE TEMPLE
CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS STUDIES

THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY AND CLEANSING OF THE TEMPLE

The Triumphal Entry -Matthew 21:1-12; Mark 11:1-14; Luke 19:29-44

With the Transfiguration over, all of Jesus’ attention was then focused on the Passion and eventual death. Thus, his whole mind was in Jerusalem. In this chapter, we will look at some of the notable events that took place as he entered into Jerusalem. The entry into Jerusalem is described as triumphal owing to the tumultuous welcome he received upon entry.

The synoptic gospels, all agree on the period of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem -on the very last week of Jesus’ ministry, shortly before his death. Approaching Jerusalem, Jesus sent two of his disciples following him to go to a particular village near Bethphage and Bethany and untie and bring to him a young ass which had not been ridden on before.

According to the synoptic accounts, they should simply tell anyone who challenged them that “The Master had need for it”, that is all-and the fellow would let go. Apparently, an arrangement to this effect must have been made before the time, probably, with the ass owner(s). Therefore, the disciples went and succeeded in bringing the young ass to Jesus. Jesus rode on the ass and entered Jerusalem. Consequently; the disciples removed their clothes and dressed the ass with Jesus sitting on it. In the same festive mood, the multitude following Jesus, all cut branches from trees and spread them on the road as Jesus rode towards Jerusalem. As he rode, the air was filled with shouts of Joy from the multitude saying- “Hosanna, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord”, as celebrated today by christians as Palm Sunday- the Sunday before Easter.

 

The Significance of the Triumphal Entry

  1. It was a fulfilment of an Old Testament prophecy foretold many years before; one of such events that will practicalize the messiahship of Jesus.
  2. This signified Jesus’ last effort to convince the people and present himself as the Messiah and King of Peace to the Jews. In those days, kings rode on asses when they were on peace missions; but on horses during wars.
  3. Jesus’ decision to use a young ass on which no one had ridden on signified the sacredness of the event.
  4. Similarly, the choice of a young ass also signified the originality the event portrayed. No one had ever performed this very act of riding into Jerusalem as messiah and king.
  5. “Hosanna” is a heavenly language meaning “Save Lord”; “Hosanna in the highest” means- “Let the angels in the highest in heaven say unto God- “Save Now”. This apparent reference to angels goes to point at the ‘Saviourhood’ of Jesus as well as divine recognition of this role of a saviour. The multitude was therefore unknowingly confessing that Jesus was the Messiah.
  6. The riding of Jesus on an ass signified his peaceful reign as king on earth and in heaven.

 

Lesson to Learn

One lesson christians should learn here is to give whatever we have for the work of God like the owner of the ass willingly let go of it to Jesus.

 

The Cleansing of the Temple -Matthew 21:1-17

According to the account of Matthew, the event of the cleansing of the temple took place as soon as Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem. As Jesus entered the Temple, he was angered by the sight of people changing money as well as people selling pigeons for the purpose of sacrifices.

In an apparent fit of anger, Jesus overturned their tables, chased them away, describing them as thieves and robbers who had turned God’s house of prayer into a den of thieves.

The blind and the lame came to him in the temple and he healed them. The chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things he did and the children cried out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David”. The chief priest and the scribes asked Jesus -“Do you hear what these are saying?” Jesus replied them-“Yes have you never read: ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings, thou has brought perfect praise?”

 

Why Jesus Cleansed the Temple

During the time of Passover Feast, pilgrims usually came to Jerusalem from non -Jewish nations to observe the great Feast. All pilgrims were expected to pay the Temple Tax of half a shekel in no other currency except the local Galilean currency. These pilgrims came from Rome, Greece, Egypt, Syria etc ., and must change such currencies into the local currency before paying, hence the religious leaders saw this as an opportunity to set up Foreign Exchange Offices in the Temple (Bureaux De Change) for the purpose of making huge gains.

It is worthy of mention here that these religious leaders, in most cases from the High Priest’s family, exploited the pilgrims by hiking the exchange rate of the Galilean currency to other foreign currencies. Similarly, the religious obligation as it affected sacrifices was that it was an abomination to make sacrifices using pigeons with blemishes. To this end, most pilgrims decided to buy pigeons from within the Temple, to avoid buying ones with blemishes outside.

Who were the owners of such Temple Livestock Companies who sold ‘pigeons without blemishes’ at very exorbitant cost? Of course, the religious leaders. All these acts of exploitation angered Jesus greatly, hence his emotional outburst of over-turning the tables and chasing them away, declaring:

“It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you make it a den of robbers” (Matthew 21:13).

 

Significance of Cleansing of the Temple and Lessons to Learn from it

  1. “Den of thieves” is an apparent reference to the cheating and exploitation going on in the house of God. Turning the house of God into a money-making house is an abomination. Whoever does it must be punished by God.
  2. Cleansing the Temple was a demonstration of Jesus’ messianic authority.
  3. Christians must be ready always to rebuke or even chase away people who have no business being in the house of God or people who treat the house of God with contempt.
  4. The present day bazaar sales as practised in some churches today is unscriptural if Jesus’ action against the religious leaders in the temple is to be followed.
  5. Serving God is not a money-making business.
  6. Christians should prepare to fight corruption by rebuking people who use the name of God in cheating or defrauding.

 

Summary

  1. Jesus’ reaction to the religious exploitation of his day is a timely warning to people who may be tempted to abuse their roles as religious leaders to their own selfish ends.
  2. Churches are supposed to be places for people to commune with God and for prayer and not a money-making arena. This is an abomination before God and must be punished accordingly.
  3. In fact, the work of God is not supposed to be a money-making business.
  4. Religious leaders who see their position as money-making opportunity should therefore change their ways.
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