Jesus is always seeking to make things new. When he came into the world, he didn’t come into the world to keep things the way they were. He intended to cast out sin and its effects on people, and to call people back to true and authentic worship, and a real relationship with God who made us and loves us.
So, in today’s Gospel, he comes to the Temple in Jerusalem. And at the Temple, it was customary to have people there selling animals to be used for the sacrifice which was required of them, and to have money changers there to exchange the Roman coins for coins that could be used to pay the Temple tax. All of this was legitimate business. But the problem is, the legitimate business had become more important than really worshipping God. It had become more important than taking care of those in need. It became more important than really praying, or really living the faith.
So Jesus overturns the tables and chases the business people out of the Temple because he saw that the Temple worship didn’t bear fruit any more, kind of like the fig tree in the earlier part of the Gospel story that didn’t bear any fruit. Yes, it’s true figs weren’t in season. Yes, it’s true the buying and selling in the temple area was legitimate. But none of that matters. The only thing that matters is bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God and becoming a people who really pray and really live their faith. The time had come for change.
I think that’s true of us too. We tend to like the things we’ve become used to, or even if we don’t like them, we are comfortable with them because change makes us nervous. We may not like it people are gossiping about someone, but we go along with it because we don’t want to make waves. We may even feel uncomfortable when people say something hurtful or racist about another group of people, or make an inappropriate joke, but we don’t have the courage to stand up for what we believe. And Jesus wants to turn over those tables in our lives so that we don’t become withered up trees that bear no fruit.
Let’s let Jesus turn over the tables in our lives today.