Is It Time to Turn Over Tables?


Is it Time to Turn Over Tables?

It was all planned. Jesus entered the city on Sunday on a celebratory wave of Hosanna and left the crowd behind to visit the Temple. He looked around and left, because he planned to come back Monday and make a scene. Apparently, Jesus is not a Presbyterian after all; good Presbyterians don't make scenes, do we?

Jesus didn't throw an impromptu Temple tantrum: he staged a planned protest. Jesus believed it was time to turn over some tables.

Jesus wasn't angry that money was changing hands for sacrifices. He was angry that his expectations weren't met. He expected his Father's House, the Temple, to be a house of prayer for all people, but instead he found it turned into a den of thieves. The Temple was the den of religious leaders who devoured widows houses. The Temple was not the place where robbery occurred, but where the robbers went for refuge in the belief that they were safe and protected and legitimized by the House of God.

Too often, the church has been on the wrong side of justice issues, but we retreat behind our pulpits and stained glass confident that everything is okay. We believe God is on our side. As long as we're in's all good. 


Throughout the prophetic tradition, God's insistence on justice runs clear: "I reject your worship because of your lack of justice" (Amos 5:21-24). Authentic worship must be coupled with justice; injustice to anyone affronts what we proclaim and promise in worship.

That's why Jesus was so upset at the Temple. There's a withering within the walls-a withering of faith, hope, love, and justice in his Father's House.  What should be a house of prayer for all people, says Jesus, has become an exclusive club of privilege and power. The Temple had become a hiding place for those who feigned piety while people stood outside the doors, knocking with bloody knuckles, desperate to receive the promise of the place.

Does it make you angry that someone has to ask if they would be welcome in the House of God? Does it make you angry when you hear stories of people being asked to leave churches, businesses, and even homes because of who they are?

Do injustices done to children, women, minorities, and those with less financial and social capital anger you? It should.

It's Holy Week Monday. Is it time to turn over the tables?

Is it time to turn over the tables in state houses where legislators hide after robbing individuals of their dignity and freedom by permitting and promoting discrimination?

Is it time to turn over the tables of businesses that prey on the desperate, robbing them of their futures in exchange for the meager means of present survival?

Is it time to turn over the tables of the patriarchy that robs women and girls of confidence, hope, opportunity, and equality by insisting they are not as good, not as valued, and not as capable as men?

Is it time to turn over the tables of prisons that rob human beings of their very humanity for the sake of profit?

It is Monday of Holy Week. Is it time to read devotions and pray in the garden, or is it time to turn over the tables?