The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
“‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?” (verses 14-16)
This little scene happens immediately after Jesus clears the Temple. I must say I hadn’t noticed it before. The previous moment has always captured my attention, indeed taken my breath away, as I’ve watched Jesus, with unflinching boldness and great physicality, expressing his anger that the Temple had been turned into a market – a “den of robbers.” He overturns tables and benches, scattering coins across the floor and driving out those who were buying and selling, along with their supply of doves and cattle and sheep. It’s a stunning scene.
In the uproar, I hadn’t noticed what happens next. The officially sanctioned riffraff have been driven away, cleared out of the temple. But now, instead, others have been drawn in. “The blind and the lame came to him at the temple.”
How wonderful. Jesus didn’t retreat from the scene of wreckage he had inflicted. He didn’t run away. Instead, he lingered, taking up residence in his “house of prayer,” welcoming into this sanctuary those who had needs. It’s an equally stunning scene as the previous devastation. The result? In one simple phrase, Matthew states it: “He healed them.” No wonder Matthew will go on to speak of “the wonderful things he did.” Yes, indeed.
Meanwhile, ringing out in the background, is the sound of children’s voices, singing aloud,“Hosanna to the Son of David,”carrying on the triumphal notes of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The children get it. They have caught the essence. They can’t be stopped.
All of this infuriates the chief priests and teachers of the law. Interestingly, in Matthew’s telling, they make no comment at all about the clearing of the Temple Itself. But against the backdrop of Jesus’ miraculous healings, what they complain about are the voices of children.
It sets in stark contrast two statements already made by Jesus, recorded for us by Matthew. “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus said (18:3). And again, “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (19:14).
“Do you hear what these children are saying?” the priests and teachers had complained. We might well turn the question and ask them, “Do you?”
We might ask ourselves the same. Do we really hear? And if so, how can we, like children, join in?
Lord Jesus, praise you for the strength of your response to the “den of robbers.” Praise you for restoring a sanctuary for your presence. Praise you for your healing compassion. Praise you that you are worthy of Hosannas. Soften my heart to be childlike enough to join in the praise.
Reflect: The children sang out, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” What active steps can you take today to join in the praise?
Photo by samer daboul: https://www.pexels.com/.../three-children-sitting-on.../