It must have been the pigeons

March 25, 2024

Matthew 21:12–16 (ESV)

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers 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.”

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,

“‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”

It must have been the pigeons.

They were being sold instead of sacrificed. Maybe many didn’t know, that from the times of the Old Testament, God had set up a system, wherein, if someone could not afford a lamb as their sacrifice for sins, then pigeons would suffice. A way for those less fortunate to still be right with God. But these birds weren’t being used as a wage to wash their wrongs, rather they were being sold for greedy gain. Birds for pay, taking everyone involved, as prey. 

It wasn’t a surprise, and still, it had set Him off; righteously so. The prophet Isaiah had predicted this very event, along with many others, would be His fate this week, and He had shouted his words as he drove them out of the house. His house. A house for prayer. A house for worship. The house where His Father took up residence. The house where, until He had come, the Spirit of God dwelt solely amongst His people. As sacred a space as the world had ever seen. A place for man to pay their debt, not collect their dues; they had taken this house, and turned it into a place of profit – and He was at a loss. 

As He drove them from the Temple, with the most justified of anger, He looked up and saw those who were blind, and many lame. They came to Him, believing He could undo what was broken. That He could put right what was wrong. That He was capable of cleansing them in more ways then one. And for a moment, all was right again. 

He sat with them. He prayed with them. He laid hands on them. He healed them. He took back His house – and with it some deep breaths. The week has only just begun, and already He  is feeling overwhelmed. Depleted by the depths of human despair. Over and over, He has demonstrated who He is. He has explained His intentions. He has made plain what is God’s plan. And still they do not understand. Even now, as children cry out to Him in praise, there are priests standing in the corner, with judgement on their faces, demanding He make them take it back. 

He cannot

He will not.

He is who they say. From the mouths of babes has come the truest thing today. He is here, for just this time, and just one task. 

As He walks out of the Temple, his friends are seeing a change. They are wondering what is going on. Very suddenly, something is different. They had been there many times before, with no such outbursts or eruptions. What was different this time? 

It must have been the pigeons. 

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