The Cleansing, The Curing, and The Cursing

Timothy Walsh (faded) on Restoration Living

Artist: Timothy Walsh

- Brad Nelson

Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, "It is written,

'My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you are making it a den of robbers."

The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David", they became angry and said to him, "Do you hear what these are saying?" Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read,

'Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself'?"
He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

- Matthew 21:12-17

A cleansing. A curing. A cursing. That’s what Jesus does as he enters Jerusalem the week before his death. Like nearly everything Jesus did, these three events are loaded with symbolism. Long ago, King David had conquered Jerusalem, which at the time was controlled by the Jebusites. The inhabitants mocked him saying, “Even the blind and lame will turn you back.” David conquered the city anyway and made it his capital, and then declared the blind and lame weren’t welcome in his palace. Here, on Palm Sunday, Jesus arrives in Jerusalem as the true king to a city that resists him. Instead of overcoming his opponents by force and then banning those who would oppose and mock him, he heals and welcomes them. He’s reenacting David’s life and kingship, but in a completely different way.

His turning over tables isn’t really about money polluting a place of worship. His action and the reason for it are far more dramatic. With no moneychangers or merchants, people couldn’t buy the things necessary for making sacrifices. Jesus brought worship in the temple to a halt. The temple was the place where God’s people endlessly sought God’s presence through sacrifice, prayer, and worship. By putting a stop to this, Jesus was symbolically indicating that the temple had become irrelevant to the purposes for which God had made it. Instead of being a place where people sought God’s presence it had become the center of Jewish resistance to Rome. Jesus seems to be making the same statement when he curses the fig tree. A tree that bears no fruit has become irrelevant to the purpose for which it was created. So Jesus marches in and declares, “This is not what you were made for.”

One aspect of the Lenten journey is awakening to the ways in which our lives have become irrelevant to the purposes for which we were created. It’s allowing Jesus the freedom to walk in and declare, “That right there, that is not what you were made for.” And unlike King David’s triumphant entry, in Jesus’ triumphant entry it’s the ones who know they’re lame, broken and diseased who find healing and welcome.

We, all of us, have some familiarity with the gnawing sense that our life is not what it’s meant to be. Conventional wisdom tells us to flee this fearful dissatisfaction by creating schemes to conquer, achieve, and make something of our lives. So we seek refuge in illusions, but the vague sense that something’s amiss lingers for many of us. The counter- intuitive wisdom of Jesus’ kingdom invites us to move into our brokenness and dis-ease. Like Jesus, we are to move toward the cross and not away from it, because in this kingdom, where there are crosses, there are resurrections. Resurrections are far better than insurrections. May we all come to Jesus with our lame, broken, dis-eased selves, with hearts open to the cleansing, the curing and the cursing. May we give resurrection a chance. 

Brad Nelson on Restoration Living

Brad is the lead Pastor of Brick City Church in Ocala, Florida and founder of Claren Consulting. Husband. Father. Teacher. Storyteller. Writer. Pastor. Advocate. Kingdom Conspirator. Inter-Office Email Assassin. Consultant. Resurrectionist.




TJ Walsh received his BFA Graphic Design/Painting, The University of the Arts, Philadelphia. TJ is currently obtaining his MA in Counseling Psychology at Eastern University.Walsh has written on the topics of art, culture, faith & mental health. His work has been exhibited and published internationally.