If you are a regular listener to the podcast, you may have realized that the podcasts are usually created a few weeks in advance. This is somewhat necessary because of our family ministry tours.. As we have just arrived back home from a three week tour, I have had more time to reflect on Luke 19 and 20 as I get ready to record the next episode. So, here is one question I have been reflecting on during our trip from Luke 19. It has been my understanding that most of the priests, scribes, and elders, those who worked in the Temple in Jerusalem, tended to be Sadducees as opposed to Pharisees and that this was due to the fact that most of those in the temple knew that they derived their authority from Rome. The Chief Priests at least were appointed by Rome and could, in theory, be controlled by Rome. Sadducees, you may recall, deny that there is a Resurrection. Why is this significant? Because people who believe that they might be raised from the dead are far more likely to be willing to die for a cause than those who believe that life is one and done. If you have received your position of prominence, power, and authority from Rome, you are going to be far less likely to advocate revolt against Rome. If this is the case, why when Jesus enters the temple, does He say, "My House shall be a house of prayer; but you've made it a brigands' cave." Luke 19:46
A "brigand" is a revolutionary, a "freedom fighter" or someone who wants to overthrow the powers that be. How can this describe the largely Sadduccee-controlled temple? I think that the answer must be that Jesus didn’t consider the temple to be the intellectual property of the Chief Priests. The Chief Priests may have lived there and worked there but they did not control what other people thought about it. In the minds of the Israelites, the temple is one thing and the Chief Priests quite another. I imagine that many Pharisees' envisioned a cleansing of the temple which would include the ousting of the politically compromised Chief Priests. While the Chief Priests May have had dominant control over the Temple proceedings, the Pharisees had the greater influence over the people. And the people’s hopes for the temple were more in line with the Pharisees' hopes than they were with the Sadducees' hopes. After all, there is no reason to compromise with Rome to keep the status quo unless you are comfortable with the way things are. But most of Israel was not in such a position. Therefore, Jesus critique of the temple was not aimed at the Sadducees whose presence dominated the temple, but it was aimed rather at the hopes that most of Israel attached to the temple.