Jesus and Justice

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!

Gospel of John 2:13-16

In Jesus' day, Jewish pilgrims would travel from distant lands to worship in the temple in Jerusalem. Upon arrival at the temple, they were supposed to offer an animal sacrifice. Of course it was difficult to travel with animals, so the market was born at the temple whereby merchants would sell these animals to the weary pilgrims.

It is not the fact of the animals being sold that bothered Jesus; rather, he's angry because the merchants were selling at an unjust, inflated, price. He was angry at the merchants and money changers because they were using God's house to make an unjust profit off the pilgrims. The merchants were overcharging for the animals and the money changers were converting the currency of the pilgrims to the special currency required in the temple at an unjust rate.

Note that Jesus singled out those who sold doves for harshest treatment because of all the sacrifices permitted in the temple, doves were the least expensive. So, the dove merchants were preying on the very poorest of the pilgrims.

If we are to follow Jesus' example, what tables should we be overturning?

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