Heroes of the Bible

Jesus Climbs the Temple Mount

Jesus constantly challenged bad shepherds. He denounced them as thieves and robbers who steal, kill and destroy—hurting the very people who Jesus wants to “have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:1,7-10).

I went to Jerusalem several years ago.

One of my most memorable moments came at the Wailing Wall (often called the Western Wall). Its gigantic stone blocks rose high above me—the only remnant of the retaining wall that once encircled the Temple Mount.

This Wailing Wall is all that remains of the magnificent Jewish Temple where Jesus walked. It is a place of prayer for Jews and for all others who come.

I prayed for the Peace of Jerusalem.

I looked up. I felt tiny as I gazed at the Temple Mount (the most important site in Judaism).

Far above me, I could see parts of the mosque that sits on top of what Muslims call Mount Moriah (the third most important site in Islam after Mecca and Medina).

I prayed again for the Peace of Jerusalem.

Since I follow the Way of Jesus, I was struck by the realization that I was standing where Jesus walked.

I had never before realized what incredible courage it took for Jesus—the Good Shepherd—to climb to the top of the Temple Mount when the Temple stood there in all its magnificence. Surely, he must have felt as tiny as I did.

Nevertheless, Jesus was strong and courageous enough to climb up to the Temple and challenge the bad shepherds who controlled it.

It would have been intimidating to climb the many steps up to the Temple and to walk inside, even if Jesus had planned to stand there politely worshiping. The bad shepherds who controlled the Temple wanted Jesus to stand there politely worshiping.

Bad shepherds always want to intimidate good people to “go along to get along.” Bad shepherds always want good people to keep worshiping politely while the bad shepherds get richer and more powerful.

But Jesus never did what bad shepherds wanted him to do! The Good Shepherd refused to keep worshiping politely while bad shepherds kept stealing, killing and destroying. The Good Shepherd didn’t “go along to get along.”

Jesus constantly challenged bad shepherds. He denounced them as thieves and robbers who steal, kill and destroy—hurting the very people who Jesus wants to “have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:1,7-10).

Jesus acted at least twice inside the Temple itself to challenge these bad shepherds—once near the start of his public activities and once just before his crucifixion. Both times, Jesus was angry that the bad shepherds were preying upon those who were praying.

At the Temple, Jesus “found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.” Using a whip of cords, Jesus “drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.” To those preying upon those who were praying, Jesus said, “Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:13-17).

Three years later, the bad shepherds were still at it. And so was Jesus—the Good Shepherd!

Once again, Jesus entered the Temple and (without hurting anyone) “drove out all who were buying or selling there” (Matthew 21:13). Quoting the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, Jesus said, “It is written . . . ‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Luke 19:45-46).

Why turn a place of prayer into a marketplace—a den of robbers? Why prey upon those who pray?

Bad shepherds are led astray by their love of money and their love of power. They love money and power so much that they are willing to do anything to stay rich and powerful—even if it means killing Good Shepherds.

Good Shepherds are not led astray. They love people instead of loving money or power. Indeed, Good Shepherds love people so much that they are willing to do anything to help people—even if it means laying down their lives to help people.

A bad shepherd does not lay down his life to help the sheep. As Jesus said, a bad shepherd “cares nothing for the sheep” (John 10:13). “So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away” (John 10:12).

Furthermore, when bad shepherds see a wolf coming sometimes they encourage the wolf to help them prey upon the sheep!

Jesus himself was crucified due to just such an unholy alliance of bad shepherds with a wolf. The bad shepherds invited the Roman Empire (the big bad wolf itself!) to help them kill Jesus—the Good Shepherd.

Why was the Way of Jesus such a threat to these bad shepherds and the big bad wolf? Jesus was “powerful in word and deed” (Luke 24:19).

It became clear to the bad shepherds that Jesus wouldn’t stop at verbally denouncing them. Jesus wouldn’t stop at boycotting the economic, religious and political systems that preyed upon people.

To protect the sheep who were being preyed upon, the Good Shepherd—Jesus—took nonviolent direct action to challenge the bad shepherds. He made a whip and (without hurting anyone) forcefully disrupted the economic, religious and political systems that preyed upon people (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:11-12, 15-18; Luke 19:45-46; John 2:13-17).

It is essential to realize that in order to follow the Way of Jesus, we must challenge any economic, religious, or political system that preys upon people—regardless of which economic, religious or political system is preying upon people at that time and place.

For example, the religious leaders of every religion—not solely the religious leaders of Israel during the Roman occupation—often ally themselves with economic and political systems that increase the wealth and power of the religious leaders.

Bad shepherds can be found in ALL religions, including in Christianity. Furthermore, as used in this context, the word “religion” also refers to ALL ideologies and philosophies that fill the role of religion in secular movements, including Communism, Naziism, Globalism, and Nationalism.

Bad shepherds in these religions, ideologies and philosophies (who can be business or political leaders, rather than religious leaders), know that if the Way of Jesus grows, it will destroy them and the economic, religious and political systems that sustain their wealth and power.

Therefore, if any business, religious or political leader is preying upon people, we (all of those who follow the Way of Jesus), must challenge that business, religious or political leader.

If any economic system is being used to prey upon people, we must challenge that economic system, regardless of whether it is Capitalism, Communism, or any other economic system.

If any religious, ideological, or philosophical system is being used to prey upon people, we must challenge that religious, ideological, or philosophical system, regardless of whether it is Christianity, Secularism, or any other religious, ideological, or philosophical system.

If any political system is being used to prey upon people, we must challenge that political system, regardless of whether it is a Democracy, a Dictatorship, or any other political system.

There are many ways to challenge bad shepherds whose economic, religious and political systems prey upon people.

To empower people to have life and have it to the full, we can bring lawsuits to vindicate the rule of laws that secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We can form political movements that are committed to government of ALL the people, by ALL the people, and for ALL the people. We can risk our lives by boycotting buses and walking across bridges to overturn the tables of oppression and injustice.

Above all, regardless of which economic, religious or political system is being used by bad shepherds to prey upon people, we need to be totally committed to following the Way of Jesus so that we become Good Shepherds.

As Good Shepherds, we must endure any hardship when helping ALL people (including the bad shepherds themselves!) (Matthew 5:38-48))—no matter how far they have strayed from the Way of Jesus.

As Good Shepherds, we must endure any hardship when helping ALL people (including the bad shepherds themselves!) to follow the Way of Jesus so that they “have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:1,7-10).

The Good Shepherd—Jesus—remained committed to helping ALL people and to challenging ALL bad shepherds, even when he was insulted, humiliated, tortured, and killed.

Therefore, ALL of those who follow the Way of Jesus must be committed to helping ALL people and to challenging ALL bad shepherds, even when we are insulted, humiliated, tortured, and killed.

Only with such a commitment can we drive out bad shepherds who prey upon people—regardless of whether the bad shepherds are business, religious or political leaders.

Only with such a commitment can we destroy economic, religious and political systems that prey upon people.

Only with such a commitment can we build economic, religious and political systems that serve and help ALL people.

Only with such a commitment can we help ALL people who have been led astray, exploited, and preyed upon.

Only with such a commitment can we become Good Shepherds.

Only with such a commitment can we help people in want.

Only with such a commitment can we help people lie down in green pastures, finding rest.

Only with such a commitment can we help people walk beside still waters, finding paths of righteousness.

Only with such a commitment can we help people who are walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death to fear no evil for we are comforting them.

Only with such a commitment can we help prepare a table for people in times of trouble, anointing them with blessings that overflow.

Only with such a commitment can we help people know that goodness and mercy are following them all the days of their life.

Only with such a commitment can we help people know that they will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

READ MORE

To read more about the Way of Jesus, please read my book, Hoping in the LORD, that draws upon the Bible—from Matthew to John—to teach us how Jesus carries us to the Promised Land.

To read more blogs about how the love of money and the love of power lead bad shepherds astray, please read “Jezebel and Ahab: Greed, Lies and Violence”; “Judas Iscariot Betrays Jesus: The Love of Money”; and “Pilate: The Love of Power”.