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  • Sarah Beth Dippel


Day 41? I thought Lent was only 40 days? Well, yeah. I failed to mention; there are 6 Sundays in Lent. If we include Sundays, there are 46 days during the season of Lent.

So Day 41 : Today is Holy Monday. Matthew gives an account of two notable events of the day. Jesus curses a fig tree in Bethany and cleanses the temple in Jerusalem. "The next day as they were leaving Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he could find anything on it. When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs. And he said to it in reply, 'May no one ever eat of your fruit again!' And his disciples heard it.

They came to Jerusalem, and on entering the temple area he began to drive out those selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. He did not permit anyone to carry anything through the temple area. Then he taught them saying, 'Is it not written: 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples'? But you have made it a den of thieves.'" (Matthew 11: 12-17) These events, at first reading, don't fit into Jesus's character. Why is Jesus so angry? Cursing trees and overturning tables! Well, tomorrow, we will see what happens to that fig tree.

But why the cleansing of the temple? There are different theories among biblical scholars, but Dr. Pitre's explanation strikes me as a more profound look at this event. Sure. Jesus likely didn't appreciate the thieves operating in the temple, but He says something else that points to a deeper meaning. He refers to the Old Testament scriptures in Isaiah 56, a house of prayer for all peoples. The area where the animals are kept and sold is the Court of the Gentiles. The Court of the Gentiles was the court farthest from the temple but was the closest any non-Jew could get to the sanctuary. The Jews might not have cared about the Gentiles having a place to pray, but the Lord does. He is making a new temple for all people and all nations. #livinglent2

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