“Then Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. And after looking around at everything, he went out to Bethany with the twelve since it was already late.”
Mark 11:11 NET
After his arrival riding on a colt and cheered by the multitude, Jesus went directly to the temple. No feast-time tourism, nor burnt sacrifices for him, however.
Only Mark mentions that Jesus arrived at the temple, looked around at everything and left immediately to spend the night in Bethany, likely at Lazarus’s house. He cites the lateness of the hour for Jesus’ quick exit.
But if the hour was so late, why go to the temple in the first place? The answer comes the following day.
The next day, Jesus purifies the temple by chasing out the moneychangers. His action suggests that the previous day’s observation was to verify if the temple was “fufilling its divinely appointed mission.”/1
He had done it before, early on in his ministry. Now, at its end, as his sacrificial death neared, he would do it again, if need be.
As always, mankind had perverted the purpose for which the temple had been built. Just as they’d done with the Law of Moses.
So Jesus needs to see. And Mark uses a compound word that only he uses (3:5, 24; 5:32; 9:8; 10:23), besides one time in Luke (6:10): periblepo, to look around.
He takes it all in. The pilgrims come from afar, to participate in the feast. The bleating and braying of the animals. The exchange tables set strategically in the temple precincts. The lines of worshipers for animal defect inspections.
And he knows. This is not what my Father planned. He didn’t mean for it to become a marketplace, a cheating stage, a public plaza for business, but a sacred meeting ground, the sandal-off, barefoot holiness of the presence of God.
Why bother now? His hour has almost arrived. This sacrificial system will soon dissolve as God’s way to heaven. So why create yet another scene, now when the temple is on its last leg, to be abandoned forever and, in a few years, destroyed physically as well?
Because this is what he does. He cleanses the filthy. He rages against the unholy. He cries out against every man-made barrier erected against intimacy with God.
He sees for himself. And he cannot but take action.
By cleansing of the temple he foreshadows the cross. But the looking around and decision to purify the grounds are themselves valid actions as yet another acted proclamation of the divine dissatisfaction and the heavenly remedy.
Jesus came to fix hearts. And before the fix, he looks around at everything, inside the human psyche, penetrating every dark corner, observing each hidden pain, each moral failure, each fleeing fear.
Yes, he sees it all.
The hour is late. He comes again to the space of our heart, presents himself to cleanse the filth, to purify the compromised, to restore the forgotten purpose. He comes to prepare a man or a woman for divine habitation.
Will he encounter resistance?
1/ Walter W. Wessell, “Mark,” Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 8: 725.
Jesus sees all. And his observations are mere preliminaries to his cleansing action.