and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
- Mark 11: 15-17 (NLT)
After His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus spent some time walking about the public section of the Temple and he was angry with what He saw. It was being used as a marketplace for merchants and farmers to show their goods and sell them to the crowds which filled Jerusalem in those days leading up to the Passover. The Temple had created a bazaar-like atmosphere and, of course, in return for using the space, the vendors paid a cost out of what they made to the leaders of the Temple. Using God's Holy Place in such a way truly concerned Jesus, but He held His feelings for later and He and His Disciples returned to Bethany, only two miles away, for the night. He was saving His wrath for the money changers for the following day, Monday, when He would return and start to reveal Himself for all to see what He believed and expected of His people in the Temple.
On Monday morning He and His disciples returned to the Temple and Jesus showed visibly just how upset he was. Finally, he spoke out with the words that were recorded for posterity by His disciple, Matthew, almost identical to the words used by Mark above. He then turned over the tables of the money changers, spoke briefly about his wrath and departed. He knew He was being watched but also knew that many of the faithful were unhappy with the financial comfort of the priests, yet He didn't want to take a chance of being arrested yet for He knew that the appointed time would come later in the week.
Leaving the city, his party then moved to the Mount of Olives where he began the final process of verbally preparing His disciples for what would be coming. He knew there would be doubts and fear, but He wanted to instill in them an understanding that they would remember later in their days of scorn since they would soon have to deal with it alone after His death. And then again they went back to the safety of Bethany where there were those who would watch over Him and warn of any sign of approach by Temple soldiers.
Meanwhile, Chief Priest Caiaphas and the other priests were befuddled. They saw Jesus' controlled fury but realized that His actions and words struck home with many in the Temple. Their plot would have to be performed with stealth, under the cover of darkness, otherwise it would potentially backfire. After all, this was the week of the Passover, and any attempts to arrest and eliminate a man who many believed to be God during Holy Days would create chaos. If that happened, Caiaphas knew that the Romans would deal with Jerusalem and Israel brutally and blame Caiaphas and the Temple leaders for the initiation of any riotous behavior. The story will continue on Holy Tuesday when Jesus returns to the Temple to both preach and "school" the supposedly more learned priests on the workings of God's Law and what loving God really means.