Editor’s Note: Because Western civilization embraced Christianity as the ruling religion, the teachings of Jesus lost much of their insurrectionist, pacifistic and egalitarian origins. In effect, Christianity was bent to the interests of kings, politicians, generals and the rich.
Similarly, the story of Jesus’s fateful last week in Jerusalem has been reshaped to minimize perhaps its central event, his overturning of the money tables at the temple, a direct challenge to the merging of religious and political power of his day, as the Rev. Howard Bess recounts in this guest essay:
Christians have special celebrations for the key events of Holy Week, but they often overlook one of the most important.
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But there is a missing piece. The incident that gives sense to the week’s climactic events is Jesus’s overturning of the money tables at the temple.
Tradition says that the incident was a ceremonial cleansing of the temple of its commercial enterprises because those in charge of the temple had turned a house of worship into a commercial enterprise.
Jesus disrupted the commercial operation by upsetting the tables where the temple lackeys sold required animals for sacrifice.