Thrive: The Temple – Allison Kentle

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Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers 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.’” The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
—Matthew 21:12-17

Lately, my heart has been aching. I have walked through life in the brokenness of the inner city. I have seen the way poverty, pain, and lack of equal opportunities shatter the dreams of teens. I have felt the heaviness of systemic injustice and oppression.

When I think of slavery, oppression, or human trafficking, I imagine a dark, dirty alleyway or a dilapidated hut in the middle of the jungle. I think of women forced to work in the streets. I think of children captured and forced to work in the fields. When I think of places where oppression occurs, my first thought is not of the church.

Matthew 21 tells the story of the day Jesus walked into the Temple. His is a grand entrance following a parade, and immediately upon his arrival, Jesus looks around. Everyone is there: religious leaders, sinners, the diseased, the haves, and the have-nots. But he also sees the corruption. He sees the oppression that is happening in that place. He recognizes that big business has taken its toll on the Temple. Systems and rules that had been put in place to keep the holy ones holy and keep the unholy ones in their place are being violated. Then suddenly, there goes Jesus, knocking over tables. Coins ping on the floor, rolling all over the place. Cages snap open. Animals scatter. And Jesus quotes scripture, “My Temple will be called a house of prayer. But you have made it a hideout for thieves.”

A hideout for thieves. The Temple is now the safe place where robbers go to count their loot, a place where they can plot and make their evil plans. The Temple is now that dark alleyway in the wrong part of town, a place where bribes are taken, where plans are whispered to kill someone, where a friend is sold for thirty pieces of silver. No, surely not. Surely these terrible things cannot be happening in the Temple.

But watch what Jesus does next. He heals the blind and the crippled. Jesus addresses the haves and the have-nots. He turns over the tables of injustice, and he brings wholeness to the hurting. Jesus acts. He restores the Temple to its proper role.

If Jesus walked into my church, what would he see? What would he do?

Allison_Kentle_smAllison Kentle serves as minister to students and families at University Baptist Church in Shawnee, Oklahoma and is passionate about youth ministry. Allison received a Master of Divinity degree from Truett Theological Seminary. She enjoys being creative, reading, and spending time with her husband, Jarris. They are expecting their first child in November.

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