Sometimes connecting the dots for your children can lead to surprising reactions. This morning for family devotions I read my recent post about The Lamb without Blemish. When I read the part about the Law requiring a sacrificial lamb to be “without blemish” (Exodus 12:5), David (16) asked, “What if you didn’t have a ‘spotless’ lamb?”
I explained briefly that there were actually people who inspected the animals brought for sacrifice to see that they were without blemish. If an animal brought for sacrifice did not pass inspection, its owners would have to buy another animal from the vendors who set up shop in the vicinity of the temple. If they were pilgrims with foreign currency, they would also have to exchange it for the approved currency before they could buy anything.
Such a system of inspecting the sacrifices and offering sacrificial animals for purchase was necessary and generally helpful. A Jew traveling to Jerusalem from Greece, for example, could not easily bring his own livestock for sacrifice, so he had to be able to buy a sacrificial animal once he arrived. Still, as helpful as these “services” were, there was all kinds of opportunity for corruption. If the inspectors were in collusion with the animal sellers, they could reject perfectly acceptable animals and force the owners to buy the animals being sold in the temple. The animal sellers could charge higher than fair market prices because the worshipers had no place else to turn. And, of course, the money-changers could offer an unfair rate of exchange.
After explaining all this to the kids, I compared it to how a fast food meal inside one of the Disney theme parks here in Orlando costs a small fortune compared to a comparable meal bought just outside the parks. This form of price gouging they understood full well.
I then went on to explain that it was this kind of corruption taking place inside the temple courts which prompted Jesus to drive out the money changers and animal sellers:
Jesus went into the temple complex and drove out all those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers’ tables and the chairs of those selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of thieves!” (Matthew 21:12–13 HCSB)
In response to all this, David grinned and said, “I’d like to take Jesus to Disney World!”