By Canon Francis Omondi


The triumphal entry into Jerusalem, with all the acclamation by the pilgrims during the Passover week, must have got Jesus. For he confronted the religious  establishment, the priests and the teachers of the law, head on. It was short of  “throwing stones into the police station”.

Jesus arrived at the temple courts and went straight to the area supposed to be where the gentiles, lame and sick, worshipped.

It was strange.

A market on a market day. With international and local merchants, many of dubious reputation. The traders learnt what cartels know today: that  “wares” spiritual value, sell: customers do not bargain: and insiders the religious group, are reliable and would deliver cheap.

So, sheep, cattle, doves, all for sacrifice to atone sin, were stocked in the inside market. The teachers of the law developed the teaching, and priest demanded the offerings to unleash divine blessing. This  arrangement made the cost was dear. A pair of doves could cost as little as shs. 4 outside the Temple and as much as shs. 75 inside the Temple. This is almost 20 times more expensive. And one had to use temple currencies, which sold at an even higher price. The trade was booming, and they were willing. The noisy buyer and seller interaction drowned the hallelujahs of assent, stifling the Passover Feast spirit.

Not today.

Ku boooom!” Jesus sprang into action.

Whip this one here, slap the other one there.

Turning over the money changers tables. Freeing doves from cages, kicking out cattle and sheep and those involved.

Jesus imposed a lockdown. Not of worshipers, but of traders and their goods.  He called a press conference in the temple and quoting the prophet Isaiah, he said:

Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations?” (Mark 11:17).

Jesus was demanding of the temple be a place for all nations to pray, as the prophet Isaiah prophesied. How could the Gentiles come to pray with all those who bought and sold in the outer courts? Impossible. They made this place of prayer into a marketplace, and an extraordinary one, a dishonest one, also called a ‘den of thieves’.

The blind and the lame seeing the open court flocked into their space; where now they could get closer to the temple and access the altar to sacrifice. Jesus healed them, and resuming the business of the Messiah, of showing the power of God in compassion and mercy. There was a contemporary expectation that the Messiah would cleanse the temple, both approving it after the pagan conquerors (such as Antiochus Epiphanes and Pompey), but also from the false worship from God’s own people.

What Jesus did in the temple rekindled the street acclamation the day before. But it was children in the Temple, who responded first. It was a common thing among the Jews to use children for public acclamations, and more so to hail their celebrated Rabbis. They showed little interested in the Rabbis and all run to the Gentile court where Jesus was still standing.  This was once in a life-time moment. Just like the event in the movie,  “Moses and the Ten commandments”,  when the Egyptian chariots were being submerged in the Red sea with jubilant Israelites praising God. No, they found a song,  one already written on everyone’s lips… “Hosanna to the Son of David!”  This they shouted their hearts out, to the chagrin of the religious group.

What can you do if you were the religious leaders? Indignant and burning with envy and jealousy for the wonderful things that Jesus did,  they tried to quieten the house of prayer. The voices rose as sacrifices to the ear of God, pure children’s voices, and grateful people were at peace with God.

But the religious group had Jesus on their radar. He has to go silent six feet down.

This is a story of many paradoxes. Religious leaders in a murder scheme. Holy Temple, which is a den of thieves. Greed and theft tied in worship and sacrifices. The gentle saviour whipping out the thieves from the house of prayer.

Enough for the day one. At Passover time quarters could not be found in the city, it was too crowded with thousands and thousands of pilgrims.  Bethany was close by, where he was in friendly company, the house of Martha and Mary always open to him (cfLuke 21:37).

What shall purify the church?

If Jesus had came to the church today, I doubt he would he change the script. But he would  have to deal with the effects of COVID-19.

He would ride his donkey on streets without the usual processions of Palm Sunday since this government has banned all forms of religious gatherings, triumphal entry included. So, instead of people on the streets, they will line up on Facebook, YouTube, radio and TV to catch the glimpse of the event if they do not stop him.  It will be an anti-climax for a Feast of Passover’s importance.

But this would just be the day before. The day after is the temple cleansing day. What would Jesus do?

On arrival he would find the Gentile place empty. Yes, the entire place would not have the usual crowds that make the temple a place to be. Though, one would spot a few people.  The caretakers, the priest on duty or the bishop or Cardinal all who would maintain social distancing, every other soul would worship from home.

Jesus will miss. The merchants in the holy place would be missing. No tables to turn, no caged doves. This will not be because of COVID 19. Nowadays, the ones of today are sharp. Aware of Jesus’ habit of flogging merchants in holy places, they mutated. They sell tangible and intangible goods, which are miracles, miracle water and anointing oils from Nigeria or Israel. Other only preach health and wealth, it’s very prosperous. While others promise heaven express to tithers. And not to occupy space, they encourage you “send to this mpesa, for your miracle is on the way”.

Today the space is empty.

Jesus would not find the investors in heaven. It has been a while since we had an organised fundraising. The fundraisers also choke worship space in the church. The religious groups like this kind, they bring it already counted in millions. But they are territorial, and rush to contract the church. Even though they speak heavenly tongue, they would not tolerate turf intrusion. Remember the “kieleweke” and “tanga tanga” tussle.

For this, a real spanking was necessary.  The church would not listen to the esteemed Anglican’s Provincial Board of Christian Community Services, who in 1983, issued protocols to protect the likely erosion of the Church’s prophetic role in the society: “Church leaders and especially bishops are strongly urged to correct this situation. Inviting public figures as guests of honour at Church harambees or giving them prominence in a church function merely because of the money they bring is not in accordance with our Christian principles. It tends to silence the prophetic voice of our church leaders  (A report of the CPK Consultation on Theology and Philosophy of Development, 1989: Recommendation B: 2, p. 5, ¶4)”.

Today the whip will not be need.

Since buildings are also stopped, the dealers in brick and mortar are silent.

There will be no need to burn energy there.

But Jesus should have cracked a whip on the keepers of the storehouses. Despite 30 years of stocking, the storehouses in the temple are empty. Where would the quartet of the widows, orphans, strangers and Levites go for help?

Unfortunately, Jesus would not even meet the outcasts, the poor and the lame and sick to personally show them compassion and mercy in the Temple. They would not walk fast enough to beat the curfew. The Karauvirus (police brutality) would kill them before COVID-19. There is no need to worry though, the Phoenician woman, the Centurion and the ten lepers already taught us that Jesus can heal remotely, and at his own cost.

If Jesus got on You Tube, he would direct us to acts of mercy and compassion in this trying time of corona virus. Telling us that what we did to the least of these, “you did it to me”: for I was hungry you fed me, I was naked you clothed me, I was thirsty you gave me a drink, I was a stranger you gave me shelter I was sick and you visited me, therefore, Enter the God’s Kingdom through these acts.

I must admit that restriction to congregate due to COVID-19, saved the church from proper whipping and cleansing. I doubt that the religious group today would have spared Jesus.


Rev. Canon Francis Omondi is a priest of the Anglican Church of Kenya, All Saints Cathedral Diocese.