(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

Seeing as I’m a homeschooler in love with all thing’s dark academia, it was really only a matter of time before I went through a mythology phase. So, here I am, soaking in all the glory of ancient literature in this interesting new era.  

For those of you who don’t know, today is the day Jesus comes into the temple, just after His triumphal entry, and He drives out the people defiling His Father’s house. Just in case you haven’t studied the reasons for why He felt these people were misusing the temple, let’s go over a little bit of history before I tell you the underlying significance of Jesus’ actions, which I picked up from my new obsession.  

During this time of year, Jerusalem was teeming, overflowing even with people from various areas. There were literally millions of people coming into the city yesterday, Sunday. These people came from all over the place every year for the Passover, where their sins would be forgiven, and they could take part in a feast celebrating the way the Angel of Death passed over the Israelites in Egypt, and God freed them from slavery. Typically, none of these people were particularly rich, but according to the law were still required to sacrifice certain flawless animals to the Lord so their sins would be forgiven.  

The job of the religious leaders during this time was obviously to sacrifice the animals, but also to ensure they were absolutely acceptable to be sacrificed and met all the requirements of the law. Well, they realized this could be a great money-making enterprise, if they could tell people their animal, which they had raised themselves, was not good enough to be sacrificed, and would force them to buy a new animal directly from them. The irony was, after they took the “blemished” lamb or other animal and made people buy a new one, they turned right back around and sold the supposedly defected animal to someone else.  

Obviously, Jesus abhorred this kind of dishonesty anyway, simply because he loved what was good and true. But the audacity they had to commit such blatant sin in His Father’s house was simply too much to bear.  

“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers” (Matthew 21:12-13 ESV).  

Something the Lord revealed to me a few weeks ago, and something I’ve been thinking about ever since, is the way this represented the actions of a King at war. You see, in the ancient stories I’ve been reading, when a city was under siege, things happened in a very specific way.  

The city under fire would do everything they could to secure the gate, first. If the gate could not be made safe, and the enemy broke through, the soldiers would begin hand-to-hand combat, trying their best to keep their opponents from advancing. If the enemy bested them in this, the women and children would begin to flee if they could and escape the city, typically into the mountains which often surrounded these ancient cities.  

The opposing army had a very specific target, when conquering a city. They always aimed for the temple, which typically sat in the center of the city. Everyone knew, if they got to the temple, they secured the city. The commanding officers of the opposing army would usually set up shop in the temple, destroy the altars of the city’s gods and erect their own. They would use the temple as a base of operations for the rest of their siege. Because rest assured the siege continued long after the initial violence.  

This is why the ancient poet said, “How can man die better than facing fearful odds? For the ashes of his fathers and the temples of his gods.”  

Some of you may be wondering how on earth this relates to anything we will be talking about during the Passion week, and if I’m being honest, so did I. Lilly taught on the event of Jesus cleansing the temple a few weeks ago in Bible study, and for some reason the Lord kept bringing to mind the fall of Troy and Jesus’ Kingly actions on this day so long ago. For a while I found myself completely unable to articulate the correlation to anyone. But then it clicked.  

You see, Jesus came to make siege. To find people who were either for or against Him. To find those who would charge the temple with Him or run for the hills. All the people in Jerusalem would have known the old stories and would have recognized that only a King in possession of a victory takes the temple.  

But this ruined all their expectations of a King come to save them on their terms.  

They desired that their King would ride in, on a stallion, a great war horse, not a donkey mind you, and He would ride directly up the steps to Pilate’s palace and overturn his possessions and enterprises, Gandalf in Gondor style (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself but to include one Tolkien reference!). That he would tear down the Roman altars and erect his own in their place. They wished for someone who would free them from slavery only to bind them to a new form of almost-freedom.  

They wished not for someone who would march into their temple, siege their part of the city, and disrupt their successful sins. They wished not for someone to control their government, but only that of their oppressors. They wished not for a King who would replace their profit, status, and success for radical purity, sanctification, and surrender.  

They were entirely unaware that they were the people in need of conquering.  

How alike we are! We sit in our corrupt, detestable institutions we have created for our own comfort, and look out across our cities toward the people who certainly need conquering far more than we do. We wait for our King astride a stallion, waiting for him to lessen the burden of the consequences of our actions just enough we feel a fractionally larger amount of liberty, and yet not the taste of unrestrained freedom.  

Oh, if we could but wrap our minds around the fact that to be conquered is to be victorious! To be under siege is to be given immense freedom! If we could but wrap our minds around the paradoxical truths of the Gospel and be welcomed in with the least as Christ’s commanding officers to a newly cleansed and purified temple.  

Instead, we close the doors of our hearts and lock the bolts, wishing only for chains that do not hold us quite so tightly, or are not quite so heavy. We close our gates to the conqueror who could quite easily give us an uncomfortable freedom and open them wide to a comfortable slavery.  

May this Easter be a different record. May it tell of a city of Christians who were willing to give up their comfortable slavery for a freedom beyond description which comes only when we embrace the siege. May we allow Jesus to turn the tables of our hearts and cast out the things which make our temples into dens of thieves!  

May we embrace, with open arms and open gates, the conqueror we never knew we needed.  

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