Den of Thieves

When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, 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)

Relate: This is just my opinion, I wouldn’t go making a doctrine about it, but when it comes to money, I don’t think Jesus cared much about it. Maybe I should rephrase that. I don’t think Jesus cared all that much about what we did with our money. I do believe He was deeply concerned with what our money does to us. You could pretty fairly sum up all Jesus’ talking about money in five words: “Do not worry about it.” When it came time for the Temple tax Jesus said he was properly exempt from having to pay it, but exercising that right was more trouble than it was worth. So he sent Peter out to fish up a coin out of an aquatic wallet. When he was watching those who gave at the Temple he wasn’t looking at the amounts but rather the heart sacrifices. When they tried to trap Him Jesus said about Roman taxes, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is His.” The brilliant thing about this answer is its deliberate vagueness. One can say, “We should pay our taxes but give God our hearts.” Another could respond, “We owe nothing to Caesar. We owe everything to God.” They are both right.

When taking that approach in this verse, I don’t think Jesus was really concerned with the service fee money exchangers were charging for currency exchange. I do have to occasionally change Turkish Lira into US dollars,  or vise versa. I do not do it all the time, but it is enough that I have learned the how and where it can happen with my lowest fee possible. Even still, there is always that fee. Maybe I should get all Biblical and start knocking over ATM’s or clearing out banks next time I have to pay it. A reasonable fee is fine and I have looked, but I have found nothing but speculation that the Temple currency exchangers were charging exorbitant fees. The only legitimate evidence I have seen comes straight from Jesus’ mouth and I would contest that in His eyes it wasn’t money that they were stealing.

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