This was not a good day to be on Jesus' bad side. On the Monday of Holy Week, Jesus sets things straight for the Temple and curses the fig tree.
This may be why Mondays are so bad still today. Maybe it all started when Jesus walked into the temple and saw how people were desecrating the holiness of God in such a public way. People had not come to worship and give glory to God and revere him as the father. They had come to make some cash. In reality, they weren't interested in God at all and were willing to help their poorer Jewish neighbors give a sacrifice at passover, but for a price. This was a great weekend to make some money. 300,000 to 400,000 Jews would be ascending on Jerusalem to celebrate passover and many of these travelers would need something to sacrifice. And if they were poor, then all the better. Jesus was at the end of his rope and could not stand to see how disrespectful people were to God, his house, and his prized creation...his people. On a side note, this wasn't the first time the temple had been treated with such contempt. In Nehemiah's day (Neh. 13) the temple was being treated with disrespect when Tobiah had been given a room in the temple. Do I need to rethink my office at the church building? No, Tobiah shouldn't have been there because it was Law that no Ammonite or Moabite should be admitted into the assembly of God, because they had not met the Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaam to call a curse down on them (Neh. 13:1-2) Not only had Eliashib provided a room for Tobiah in the courts of God, but had also neglected the Levites and the portions they were to be receiving. So what does Nehemiah do about such a travesty on the house of God. "I was greatly displeased and threw all Tobiah's household goods out of the room. I gave orders to purify the rooms, and then I put back into them the equipment of the house of God, with the grain offerings and the incense." (Neh. 13:8-9) He then called upon Judah to bring tithes and take care of the neglect of the Levites. There is a lot more going on here too as Nehemiah tries to reestablish the temple of God. But back to Jesus...what does he do about the crimes against God's house? "Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 'It is written', he said to them, 'My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.'" (Matthew 21:12-13) Jesus was angry! But he had a right to be angry. Just like the day of Nehemiah, Jews had forgotten what it meant to be at the temple in the presence of the Lord. They forgot their worship. They forgot his holiness. It was a bad day to be on Jesus' bad side.
You know its a Monday when you go to get a fig and the tree hasn't bore any fruit. So what does Jesus do about this? He curses the tree and right then it withers (Matthew 21)
And before Monday can get away let's make these connections. It isn't necessarily about commerce or fruitless trees. This is about faith and the realization for Jesus that Friday will have to come, because the people who should be closest to God, don't have a clue who they worship or why. They need to drive away the distractions that have made God something he is not. They need to dig deep for an ounce of faith that doesn't depend on human ability, but the power of God. They need to realize that the Messiah is right in front of them and instead of always taking a cynical look at God's message and messenger, they must trust in the God that has chosen them, given them life, and provided them a savior.
As we think about Holy Week and especially the Monday of Holy Week, we must focus on the fact that God is to be our focus of worship, that faith is real, and that Jesus is our Savior...now and forevermore!
Holy Week Monday Meditation: Matthew 21:12-22, Mark 11:12-26, Luke 19:45-48