He rides into Jerusalem to the laud and honor of the multitude of disciples. He gazes toward Jerusalem. He weeps. And then he heads into the temple and drives out those who were selling there. This is Jesus’ first act upon entering Jerusalem: Going to the core of the establishment and tearing down its system. It’s the first century religious version of heading to Washington DC, weeping over it, going to the Capitol and driving out the lobbyists and corrupt members of congress. Jesus goes right for the heart of the power structure.
He makes a direct, but non-violent attack on the system. The crowds of supporters are large enough that it matters, but also large enough that one cannot do anything about it and survive politically. The powers that be will have to find another way to get to him. They need to find something they can charge him with. But what?
For 19 chapters we’ve been reading about and observing Jesus lifting up the lowly and bringing down the haughty. Luke’s Jesus is particularly interested in this, and here it all comes to a head. Perhaps one could say that after giving the kingdom to children, honoring a hemorrhaging woman, touching a dead body, telling numerous parables about the outsiders coming in, the insiders going out, the poor finding prosperity, and the wealthy coming up empty, this is Jesus’ coup de gras. This move embodies everything that Jesus has been doing and saying through the entirety of this Gospel: The exploitation of the poor is bad enough, but when it is done through an institution with God’s name on it, it sinks to a new depth. The house of God has become a den of robbers, and it no longer can be denied.
They need to find something they can charge him with. But what?