16-3-20 The Money Changers’ Tables

The Money Changers’ Tables – Palm Sunday

Today we will look at Jesus throwing over the money changers’ tables. It is certainly part of the Palm Sunday story, but the Catholic Church has left it out of its Lectionary for this year.. Why?

The list of Readings for this Sunday bears testimony for our neglect of worship. In the old days, when there was no TV or computers, Church was the only entertainment people had. But today it is hard to get people to go to Church and therefore the Catholic Church has given us tremendous readings for this Sunday, Palm Sunday which include what we really should hear on Good Friday. But everybody is either out camping or visiting relatives so who would go to Church on this most important of all Fridays. Therefore the Lectionary for Good Friday contains the Crucifixion according to the Gospel of John (John 18: 1 to 19: 42), while the account according to Luke is in today’s Reading, just to make sure. It’s the best part of two chapters, but there is an alternative to priests which is considerably shorter.

But let us look at another part of today’s readings, the real Palm Sunday account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem according to Luke and then focus on the money changers’ tables:

Luke 19: 28 to 40:

[28] And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem. [29] And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called [the mount] of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, [30] Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring [him hither]. [31] And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose [him]? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. [32] And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. [33] And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? [34] And they said, The Lord hath need of him. [35] And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. [36] And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. [37] And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; [38] Saying, Blessed [be] the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. [39] And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. [40] And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

So did you notice that in verse 36, they spread their clothes on the way for Jesus. So what would they have had on. They just weren’t as fussy about clothing as we are today. That was only important for people of nobility, as a matter of status, and for an ordained woman so that she might become a bethula in preparation to bear the heir for an important man with a big inheritance.

Now let us go on in Luke 19. Verses 45 and 46, ‘And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.

The Money Changers' Tables 

According to John 2: 15 Jesus actually had made himself a whip to drive them out . Why did the Catholic Church forget to put this famous story into the Lectionary. Is the story of the money changers’ tables too critical of modern society or even of the Church itself? Does it mean this?

The Money Changers' Tables today 

The Church always struggled with commercialism since its rise. Before then priests used to live of donations of food, but when many of the faithful rather brought money and charged the priest for his food and since trades people wanted to get paid for the work they did for the Church, the Church also began to charge for its services. Some priests began to charge for ringing the Church bells but the worst outgrowth probably were the charges for absolution by the Monk Johann Tetzel which contributed a great part towards the finances of the construction of the Peters Dome in Rome.

This was one of the causes which gave rise to the Reformation which unfortunately was not a Reformation but another schism. However, we do live in commercial times and the Church needs to interact with the commercial world, even though monks should live simple lives.

But let’s consider what Jesus really did when he threw over the money changers’ tables. We might think of someone who would try to make money by conducting some business on Sunday morning at Church. Everybody today would be outraged at that, but not the people at Jesus’ time.

In those days, most temples also served as banks. There were no safes made from steel with secret combination locks or even finger print recognition or arrow proof glass windows. No, in those days, the money changers’ tables had money lying out in the open in the temple and for safety they had a curtain, no iron bars, just a curtain! This curtain was not in front of the money changers’ tables but behind them. And behind that curtain there was God! Even if a money changer had to follow the call of nature, who would dare to steal even the smallest coin in the face of God?! The presence of these business people was not a sign of contempt against religion, but rather a sign of their faith in God. Christian faith is different from any other faith!

What Jesus did to the money changers is, as if someone today would go into a bank and try to throw over the tellers’ counters. How quickly would security be onto someone who did that?

How quickly were they onto Jesus? Luke 19:45 says that he ‘began to cast out them that bought therein and them that bought!’ He began, it doesn’t say, he actually brought this to an end.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.