Good Friday Toxic Fish
Most Christians know about this incident which is euphemistically called “the cleansing of the Temple.” But few realise that it is the pivotal event of Holy Week. It set in motion the arrest, trial, and death of Jesus because in trying to end the slaughter of animals, he was attacking the economic foundation of Jerusalem. The Holy City had become the centre of sacrificial religion 600 years earlier when the Temple there had been declared the only legitimate place for sacrifice.
Suddenly, some trudging footsteps of soldiers, led by Judas himself, came on over. A kiss on Jesus’ cheeks by Judas. A stampede in the darkness. Jesus was arrested. And as he was whisked away, the disciples ran helter-skelter through the bushes. Now followed some rapid cascading pietas -those mournful scenarios depicting severe slaps in Jesus’s ear, and bitter beating and floggings that opened wounds and oozed blood. This blood dripped alongside blood droplets from the nailed palms and feet, all to drench Christ’s sweating dying body on the Cross!
The final result was that the Romans crucified Jesus. Pilate, the Roman governor, would hardly have crucified someone just because of a Jewish theological dispute. But if someone were causing a riot or disturbance in the temple precincts, this demanded Roman action. It is much more plausible that Jesus objected to the practice of animal sacrifice itself, and that his disruption of the temple business during the volatile Passover week was the immediate and most important cause of his death. It was this act, and its interpretation as a threat to public order, that led immediately to Jesus’ crucifixion.
This sad episode is known to have been caused by Judas’s betrayal, an act which has earned him the contemptuous tag -the traitor.