Chapter 21 : Jesus at the Temple

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Jesus entering Jerusalem (based on: Entry Of The Turks Of Mohammed II Into Constantinople by Benjamin Constant)

(Matthew 21:1-13, Matthew 22:15-22)

Jesus and his disciples came close to Jerusalem, entering Bethphage beside the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two disciples, telling them, “Go into the village up ahead and right away you’ll find a mighty stallion. Untie him and bring him to me. And if anyone says anything to you, just say ‘The Lord needs it,’ and they will send them immediately, for it is our lawful bounty9. If they do not, make them an offer they cannot refuse. You know what we do to those people who oppose us.67

The disciples went and did as Jesus told them. They brought back the stallion. They spread their coats on the animal, and he sat on it.

When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, with people asking “Who is this?”

“This is the conqueror Jesus, the one who comes from Nazareth in Galilee,” the crowds replied. “They say he has never lost one battle!”

On his way to the temple the Lord passed some artists who were singing and playing music, and he ordered his disciples to scourge them and chase them away, and he said: “It’s better that our dear youth spend their valuable time in learning useful skills and fill their time with healthy recreations instead of music.”154

Jesus then went in to the temple of God, and threw out all the people trading there. He overturned the money-changers’ tables, and the seats of the dove-sellers, and told them, “You’ve turned my house into a robbers’ den, so you must pay my share of your profits: a fifth of your possessions will be mine.72’” And the traders were scared by Jesus and his warband, so they complied. When the faitfhul left the temple that day, God’s warchest was filled to the brink with gold and silver, and they used it to buy many arms and distributed it among the faithful. When they saw some priests who tried to repair the damage to the temple, the disciples of Jesus stopped them:

“As long as this temple does not worship Jesus, it is forbidden to repair it!”160

Then the Pharisees became afraid, and they went and plotted how they could trap him by what he said. They sent to him their disciples together with representatives of Herod’s party.

“Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man, and you truly teach God’s way,” they began. “So please tell us what you think. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?

Jesus knew their evil intentions, and asked them, “Why are you trying to test me, you hypocrites? Show me the money used to pay the tax.” They brought a denarius coin to him. “Whose image and whose name is this?” he asked them.
“Caesar’s,” they replied.

“And who is Caesar?” Asked Jesus

“The emperor of course” they answered. Then Jesus said:

“Know this: give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar I am the king of all the world, by the power of God, and so the emperor is but my servant. Nothing really belongs to Caesar, for he is my subject and he will soon bow to me.103” And he took the coin from them and did not give it back, for he regarded it as the poll tax of the infidels.

When they saw this they were astonished, and left Jesus. After this encounter, they were even more afraid, for they saw now what ambition the Son of God really had, and they began plotting his downfall even more.

Image result for coptic church destruction
When the Islamist president of Egypt  (Morsi) was deposed by the army in 2013, his fundamentalist supporters took revenge by burning and looting about 64 churches in Egypt.178 Repairing or building churches in Egypt can be problematic: the authorities often refuse to give permission (as per Islamic tradition). 179

 

Comments:

I somehow doubt that the rich warlord Muhammad would have entered Jerusalem on a simple donkey, so in this version the ride becomes a noble stallion. It is described in the Quran that a fifth of all war bounty should go to the Prophet (and later the Caliph).

The verse about disallowing the “repair of the temple” is an important one: in many territories conquered by muslims, churches became ruins because of laws against repairing “infidel places of worship”. In some conservative muslim countries (eg. Saudi Arabia) it is still forbidden (or suicidal) to build churches.

In the real Gospel, Jesus makes it clear that he’s not interested in earthly possessions. He makes a distinction between secular authority (“give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar”) and divine rule. This distinction has always existed in Christianity.

Not so in Islam: the early rulers of the muslim worlds (the Caliphs) held religious authority as well as secular. The Quran and Hadiths also transcend purely moral principles and go into extreme detail about matters of daily life (inheritance law, commercial rules, family law, …). The holy texts of islam are not meant to coexist with other laws. They are meant to replace them.

This is the “genius” of traditional Islam: it is an aggressive political ideology of conquest, posing as a religion when its believers are in a position of weakness. Once in a position of strength, all moral values may be discarded: murder, lying, stealing are allowed if it benefits the cause.

 

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