After Jesus Rode into Jerusalem on an Ass. Part I.

Jesus needed to go into Jerusalem because that was where he was to be killed as a blood sacrifice to his Father God on Friday of that week and where he was to rise from the dead on the first day of the following week. He knew that. It was part of the deal. Jesus, God the Son, was God, as were God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. God the Father always seems to have had the last say over God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. But together they are worshiped by Trinitarian Christians as one triune god. The Trinity. Never mind if that doesn’t make sense. It is not there to make sense. It is there for you to believe, no matter how irrational or improbable. That’s how things are in religion. If it made sense, it would not be a religious teaching, but a demonstrable fact.

Outside of Jerusalem, on the Sabbath, Jesus instructed his followers to go and steal a colt, the foal of an ass, and bring it to him. If anyone questioned, they were to tell them the Lord hath need of it. Just why hauling off the animal, the property of another, is not forbidden work on the Sabbath is not explained.

Jesus and his followers trooped into the town, with Jesus riding on a donkey. Some threw leaves in their way. One might wonder if this gesture was mean as praise or as ridicule.

Jesus’ first reported act in Jerusalem was an assault upon merchants lawfully selling things like doves for sacrifice and changing money, whatever that means. It could mean exchanging Jerusalem money for, say, Egyptian money. Anyhow, in a violent act against merchandising and free trade, Jesus forced the money changers to abandon their work stations in the temple. One account, the Gospel of John, says he made and used a whip, drove merchants and animals out of the temple, and overturned the tables of the merchants and the numismatists. It was an ungodly outburst of temper and quite unfitting behavior for a gentle ass riding messiah. Or so it seems. Under today’s secular moral code, known as “laws,” the behavior of Jesus could be prosecuted for at least assault and criminal mischief.

Just how, or why, one wonders, do the money changes of today, and many very wealthy merchant families, insist on our government passing laws to protect that which they do best. It is perfectly lawful that they do so. But to credit Jesus with being the inspiration for their mercenary ways is somewhat amazing, given the tantrum in the temple story.

For the rest of this week, this blog will attempt to tell you more about Holy Week. You have been warned.

Edwin Kagin © 2012.


  1. busterggi says

    “with Jesus riding on a donkey”

    No wonder fundies believe the US is a Christian country – they’ve confused Jesus with Yankee Doodle!

  2. jamessweet says

    I pointed out the other day that if Jerusalem had a “stand you ground” law, it would have been perfectly legal for the moneychangers to gun Jesus down in cold blood. Also, I heard he was wearing a hoodie.

  3. naturalcynic says

    IIRC, the money changers exchanged whatever secular coins [roman, greek Syrian etc.] Hebrew pilgrims had into temple coinage because, tou know, all that other stuff had cooties and couldn’t be used in the sacred areas.

  4. raymills says

    I remember reading somewhere, that the money changers job was to prevent graven images entering the temple.

  5. Kevin says

    It was believed that the new king of Israel (aka, the messiah) would ride into Jerusalem on a never-ridden horse.

    It was literally an act of sedition.

    Of course, it never happened, since the story — like all of the others — is a fable.

  6. says

    “and Mary rode Joseph’s ass all the way to Jerusalem” – best Bible verse ever.

    I think you missed a lot in your analysis. Besides using today’s standards to judge the actions, the money changing was about getting around OT laws about using a graven image (Ceasar’s face on the coin) in the temple. It was one of the many things that had been twisted into a way for someone to turn a profit. Its morality would be equal to televangelism, legal, but abhorrent.

    • CJO says

      If you read the temple incident in Mark (which is the original version; Matthew and Luke obscure the intent of the passage) in the context of its frame sequence, the accursed fig tree, it’s easy to see that it’s part of a symbolic narrative and not an account of actual events. Jesus is indicting the entire establishment of Second Temple Judaism as corrupt; there is no sense that the moneychanging is particularly immoral on its own, but he disrupts the activity because it’s essential to the functioning of the temple. Everyone always focusses on the violent outburst toward the moneychangers, but no greater weight is given in the narrative to that action than to the one that follows:

      And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.
      (Mark 11:15-16 ESV)

      Is carrying also immoral in the eyes of Jesus? Or are we looking at a symbolic shutdown of the entire operation: no sacrificial animals being sold, no money being exchanged in order to transact such sales, and no goods being moved around in the complex.

  7. sumdum says

    I read elsewhere, or it may have been a youtube video, that the temple grounds were like several football fields large. And it being easter, it would’ve been crowded as hell. He’d have to be a one man army to clear such a large area packed with people of money changers.

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