Upside-Down Tables!


The parable of Jesus turning over tables in the Temple is a powerful symbol of an upside-down Kingdom.


Sovereign Lord, this day is Yours. Whatever it brings, I ask for Your loving watchfulness and the ability to see You in surprising places.


Matthew  21:12-17


Consider:  "Jesus! My Shepherd, Husband, Friend, / My Prophet, Priest and King, / My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, / Accept the praise I bring" (John Newton, 1725-1807).

Think Further: 

Following his kingly entry into Jerusalem, Jesus exercises his prophetic role, and in his death he will be priest. This is a powerful demonstration of the historic understanding of him as prophet, priest and king. Unexpectedly, Jesus' first action upon entering Jerusalem was not to deliver it from the oppressive Roman occupying forces but to deliver it from its own hypocrisy. Entering the vast 32-acre Temple area, Jesus confronts excessive commercialism. Money-changing and selling sacrifices were necessary activities for the sake of pilgrims, but they were supplanting the most important function of the Temple (13). So what does the prophet do? He turns over the tables (12). Like the entry into Jerusalem, this is an acted parable. What a powerful symbol of the upside-down kingdom!

What would the onlookers make of this? For some, no doubt, it is chilling, a vivid reminder of Malachi's prophecy of the Lord coming to his Temple (Mal. 3:1-5). However, Jesus doesn't only come as judge. He also comes as healer of the blind and the lame (14), the excluded, those unable to approach the sanctuary (Lev. 21:18). This is the kingdom of the God who desires "mercy, not sacrifice" (Hos. 6:6).

Children sometimes speak truth without fear of the consequences. Here they keep shouting in the Temple courts. The problem, though, isn't noise, it is what they are shouting: "Hosanna to the Son of David" (15). These are powerful words, a cry to God for help. This and the healings are too much for the religious leaders (15,16)--but look at Jesus' response. Although he knows full well who these leaders are and what they will do (Matt. 16:21,  20:18), Jesus challenges them about the children's praise. The quotation from Psalm 8 is about the praise of God himself. It will be only a matter of time.


How are you and your church extending a welcome to the disadvantaged and to those on the margins? Pray for a real demonstration of the kingdom through this.


Lord, I am now Your dwelling place. May my life be house of prayer, purity, and praise.

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