The Story of Everything: A Synopsis of The Urantia Book
Paper 173: Monday in Jerusalem
Priests in Jerusalem profited enormously from businesses in the temple courtyards. Many worshipers bought overpriced sacrificial animals guaranteed to pass the required pre-sacrifice inspection. Extensive amounts of foreign currencies were converted because shekels were required for the temple head tax; moneychangers charged thirteen cents for each ten-cent coin.
On Monday morning Jesus and the apostles arrived at the temple to preach. As Jesus began, a hundred steer bellowed as they were led through the courtyard and a violent argument arose at the table of one of the money lenders.
To the amazement of the apostles, Jesus stepped down from the teaching platform, took a whip from the boy who was driving the steer, and drove the cattle from the temple. He then opened all of the pens and released the other animals while the assembled crowds began to overturn the lenders' tables. In less than five minutes, all commercial activity in the temple ceased.
This cleansing of the temple discloses the Master's attitude toward the commercialization of religion, as well as his disdain for all forms of unfairness at the expense of the poor and the unlearned. This episode also demonstrates that Jesus did not disapprove of the employment of force against the unfair practices of unjust minorities who entrench themselves behind political, financial, or ecclesiastical power. Shrewd, wicked, and designing men are not to be permitted to organize themselves for the exploitation and oppression of others.
By the time Roman guards arrived, the temple was calm. Jesus was preaching, "You have this day witnessed that which is written in the Scriptures: 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a den of robbers.'" The apostles were so stunned by their Master's actions that they could only watch in amazement.
When the priests heard the news, they were dumbfounded; they were more determined than ever to destroy Jesus. The priests agreed that Jesus must be destroyed but were unwilling to arrest him publicly. They decided to attempt to discredit him in front of his audience.
A group of priests asked Jesus who had given him authority to do the things he did. Jesus answered with a question, asking them whether John the Baptist got his authority from heaven or from men. The elders found themselves confused. If they answered "from heaven", Jesus would be able to logically ask why they did not believe in him. If they answered "from men", they were afraid that the crowd would turn on them, because people generally believed that John was a prophet. So they were compelled to express no opinion, and answered that they didn't know. And Jesus said, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things." The Sadducees and the Pharisees asked no more questions that day.
While the priests lingered, Jesus told a parable about a landowner with two sons. The landowner asked one son to work in the vineyard. At first the son refused, but after his father left, this son repented and went to work. The landowner also asked the second son to work, and he agreed, but when his father left, he didn't work. Jesus asked, "Which of these sons really did his father's will? .now do I declare that the publicans and harlots, even though they appear to refuse the call to repentance, shall see the error of their way and go on into the kingdom of God before you, who make great pretensions of serving the Father in heaven while you refuse to do the works of the Father."
The Master told another story about a man who rented his vineyard out to tenants. When he sent servants to collect the rent payment, the tenants beat the servants and sent them away empty-handed. Repeated attempts by the lord's servants to collect the rent failed. His favorite steward and his son were sent, and the tenants killed them both. Jesus asked the people to imagine what the lord would do to these wicked tenants. Some of them understood that this parable referred to the Jewish nation's rejection of Jesus and the prophets.
Jesus then told the parable of the wedding feast. A king sent messengers to invite guests to a feast celebrating his son's wedding, but the guests didn't come. Some guests openly rebelled against the king, killing his messengers. The king ordered his armies to destroy the rebels. He then sent his servants out to gather people, good and bad, rich and poor, to fill the wedding hall. When the king entered the hall he saw a man without a wedding garment. This surprised the king, who had provided the wedding garments for free. The unprepared man was cast out and the king said, "I will have none here except those who delight to accept my invitation, and who do me the honor to wear those guest garments so freely provided for all."
A man asked Jesus what sign the Master would give to prove that he was truly the Son of God. Jesus said, pointing at his own body, "Destroy this temple, and in three day I will raise it up." But they did not understand him. Even the apostles did not understand until after his resurrection.
As they made their way out of the city that afternoon, the apostles sensed that something of tragic import was about to happen.