Tuesday 5th March 2024 Reverend Margaret Ali

Tuesday, 5 March 2024

St Mark 11: 15-19

Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.  He was teaching and saying, ‘Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”? But you have made it a den of robbers.’ And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.


I am a minister from India who has been in the URC for the past 18 months.  The reasons I had to leave India and move to the UK included corruption in the Church and gender inequality. It’s a bitter truth that there is a lot of corruption in the churches in India. Christians are terrified to raise their voices against the Church publicly in case they lose their job in missionary schools or positions at diocesan level. Senior ministers are afraid to raise their voices as they will be posted to far away in villages or suspended for no reason. If somebody raises their voice, their basic human rights will be taken away even to fight back and hence, everybody must be a ‘YES SIR’ person. No wonder Mahatma Gandhi said “I like Christ but not Christians”. 

What is meant by Jesus’ actions that we read in the passage? There are many arguments about this passage and one of them is that Jesus’ purpose was to overturn the abusive and corrupt practices at the Temple, practices which ultimately served to oppress the poor. Rather than a religious institution, there is some evidence that the Temple may have become more concerned with how much profit could be made by exchanging money and selling expensive items which the priestly hierarchy said were necessary for pilgrims. The Temple has become a “den of thieves,” but in the future, the new house of God will be a house of prayer for “all nations.” This phrase references Isaiah 56:7 and alludes to the future spread of Christianity to the Gentiles. 

Jesus’ cleansing the Temple is a warning to us not to pollute the worship of the one true God. One must be careful and never remove God from the centre of our worship/lives. No church is free of corruption. But the question is how do we respond as Christians to the context around us?


O God,
teach us to make your Church
a house of prayer for all people.

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