I've been reflecting on the implications of Jesus' actions in the temple.
(Just in case someone cares: I think that there are two cleansings, not one. John describes the one at the beginning of his ministry, the Synoptics referring to one 2 or three years later.)
There are, I think, two aspects to Jesus' actions, at least one of which doesn't get enough attention.
The first aspect is the implication for what is becoming a common church practice. We make a habit of inviting people, usually musicians and/or singers, and we allow them to set up a promotional table somewhere and sell their wares.
Is this really allowable given the temple cleansings?
The excuse is usually something like this: Jesus problem was with the exorbitant prices being charged, which amounted to practical barrier to people coming into the presence of God. That's why Jesus wanted them out; they were gouging.
Is that true? Not in the first cleansing. In John, Jesus says nothing about the particulars of their business practice; he just says they don't belong in the temple courts at all. In John it seems clear that Jesus does not think commerce is appropriate in the outer courts, regardless of whether they are honest businessmen or not. It seems more that Jesus is saying that business is for the market and the temple is for worship, and we ought not mix the two.
It isn't even true in the second cleansing. People et the idea about dishonest business practices from Jesus' words about turning the temple into a den of thieves. But this misses the fact that the Greek expression implies zealotry and not robbery. As D.A. Carson notes, "by setting up in the court of the Gentiles, they have excluded the Gentiles who might have come to pray...". In that case, it really doesn't matter whether they were using fair business practices or not; they didn't belong there.
So there seems no good reason to permit these vendor tables in our churches.
What reinforces this is the fact that Jesus actions and words probably allude to passages like Zech. 14:21 and Mal. 3:1,3. The whole thing has to do with purity of worship. With that in mind we can see that having vendors is not conducive to worshipping with an undivided and undistracted heart.
That's the first aspect. The second I will deal with tomorrow.