Holy Week: Monday

Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-19, Luke 19:45-48

In my grandparents house is a long hallway lined with framed family photos. These photos capture moments big and small in my family history - weddings, birthdays, Christmases, picnics. I have wandered down that hallway more times than I can count reliving some of my sweetest memories just by looking at the photos.

The week leading up to Easter Sunday is what is known on the church calendar as Holy Week. Christians throughout history have chosen to observe this week by remembering and meditating on what Jesus was doing each of the last days leading up to his crucifixion. Reading these passages of Scripture can become to us like that hallway lined with photos at my grandparents’ house. It allows us to take snapshot looks at what Jesus was doing each day leading up to his death on a cross, meditating on the history of those days and the deep truths hidden in them.

For example, on the Sunday before Easter, many churches celebrate Palm Sunday with specific readings or by including palm fronds in the service. They do this to remember how the crowds welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem shouting ‘Hosanna’, and how the same crowds condemned him to death days later.

On this Monday of Holy Week we remember the day Jesus walked into the Temple and overturned tables, throwing out those who were there to make a profit by taking advantage of others. While standing in the Temple surrounded by a doubtlessly stunned crowd, Jesus quoted Scripture saying, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.”

Included in that crowd of people were the chief priests and teachers of the law, men who were charged with protecting the Temple from this kind of perversion and men who had failed to do so. Jesus’s words were a pronouncement of judgment and “the chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this…” Jesus’s words should have brought them to their knees in repentance but instead they ignored their sin and began looking for ways to kill him.

This story can be difficult to read because it reminds me of how often I have, like the chief priests and scribes, ignored Jesus when he has called me to repentance from different sins in my life. At the same time, today is known as the day Jesus cleansed the Temple, and it serves as a beautiful reminder of the way he has cleansed my heart, turning it from a “den of thieves” to a heart of prayer.

On this Monday of Holy Week may we be reminded that Jesus is the one who cleanses our hearts and makes them into hearts of prayer. May we walk in repentance and may we be reminded that our God has brought salvation to us.