The priest picked up the scroll and put it away with the others, neatly and carefully lined up on the shelf. He turned and straightened the oil lamp on the table. Then he smoothed down his robe and left the temple.
He walked with long strides past the benches of the dove sellers and the tables where the money changers worked. He swept his eyes over them, pleased that they stood in orderly rows, each in its proper place.
Swiftly, he moved through the temple gates and into the courtyard. As he passed them, people straightened their backs and stood taller, or shrank back and scurried away. But of this he seemed oblivious, eyes forward, feet in motion, his gait steady, certain.
The rhythm of his feet matched the words in his head.
“… It is written in the Scriptures, ‘My Temple will be called a house for prayer for people from all nations.’ But you are changing God’s house into a hideout for robbers …”
He blinked, once, imperceptibly, and kept walking.
“… I will not tell you what authority I have …”
His fingers twitched, imperceptibly, and he kept walking.
“… Beware of the teachers of the law …”
His pace quickened.
“… They like to walk around wearing fancy clothes … They like people to greet them with respect …”
A single drop of sweat beaded on his forehead.
“… They love to have the most important seats …”
His fingers twitched, his fist clenched.
“… They cheat widows and steal their houses … They try to make themselves look good by saying long prayers …”
His lips pressed together.
“… They will receive a greater punishment … The temple will be destroyed … Not one stone will be left on another …”
As he opened the door to his house, images flashed through his mind. Tables overturned, benches flung aside, scrolls tumbled to the floor, a broken oil lamp, stones toppled, cries, chaos, confusion.
The door fell shut behind him. He stood. His chest heaved. Enough was enough. This man must be stopped.
Mark 11: 15-19, 27-33, 12: 1-12, 18-40, 13: 1-2, 14:1-2