Mark 11:15-19 ESV
And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city.
Humility in Cleansing the Temple
After Jesus’s triumphal entry, He entered the temple and seemingly started throwing His weight around as He drove people out and threw over the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those selling pigeons for sacrifices. Why did Jesus do these things, and where is His humility found in it?
It is helpful to know that this whole scene would have taken place in the outer court of the temple, which was the space that was set aside for gentiles to pray. It was a place created for outsiders to join in with the people of God, but it was being used as a market for insiders to buy and sell sacrifices. As a result, outsiders were displaced and turned away so that they couldn’t worship God in the temple.
Have you ever heard a friend or family member make a racial slur in an otherwise congenial moment? Have you felt the tension rise within you as you try to discern whether standing up for people who aren’t present is worth creating conflict with those who are? If so, then you know that often in moments like that, a prideful agenda will keep you silent while a humble agenda will open your mouth.
Jesus went into the temple as an insider and made quite the ruckus. He was standing up to those inside for those who had been kept outside. When Jesus spoke, He quoted both Isaiah and Jeremiah saying,“‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” In this, Jesus revealed His heart for the nations and His humble agenda. God’s people were actively setting up barriers to keep the nations out, but Jesus came to bring the nations into the family of God by giving His life for them.
The humility of Jesus bears a better agenda than that of the world. Jesus stood up for justice at the risk of upsetting the influential, and in His humble agenda He would become an outsider and lay down His life to make room for everybody in the family of God. The good news for us is that if Jesus came for the foreigner and the outcast, then He came for you and me.
Prayerfully consider these few questions:
- Whether you realized you were or not, have you ever used Jesus for your own agenda? In what ways do you think you are most likely to do so?
- How does seeing the humble agenda of Jesus speak to who you are? How does it speak to who others are?
- Paul calls us to have the mindset of Christ among ourselves (Phil 2:5). How does that inform who you reach out to and who you stand in defense of?