Angry shouting. Tables being overturned with force. The mixed sounds of sundry items scattering across the floor.
When I make my way back to standing he’s upon me. Two steps from my table and he’s already shouting.
“Get these out of here!” he screamed, pointing at my table.
“How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”
His father’s house? I didn’t know anyone lived here.
Before I know it he grabs underneath my table and yanks the cloth out from under, taking with it everything I had spent my life building. Then, perhaps for good measure, he overturns the table, spilling my money across the floor.
There was something in his eyes. It wasn’t anger, exactly. He yelled with conviction, like he really believed everything he said. Maybe furious was the word. Furious, but with conviction.
People weren’t quite sure how to react, but it definitely affected them. Which is probably why I could hear a small group of the guys who run the place say to each other they had to find a way to kill him. After all, he was dangerous and bad for business.
As fast as he entered, he was gone.
Myself and the other vendors left to stare at our lives scattered in front of us, wondering how we will ever rebuild them.
Maybe it wasn’t right to say he was gone. The fact of the matter is he never really left me.
Because that day everything changed. Not all at once. That’s not how these things work.
But slowly I began to awaken.
Somehow, seeing my life out in front of me, broken and in pieces, was liberating. I had spent my life building things that didn’t matter. They weren’t actually worth anything. Which is so strange, since they used to be everything.
These were not the first thoughts I had. No, at first, it was all I could do not to lunge after the man who had done it and grab him by the throat.
It took many months before I realized the full extent of what I had done. I had set up shop inside a holy place, denigrating the name of the One for whom it stood. It seemed someone lived there all along.
The man that cleared the temple that day also cleared my soul. When he stripped the table cloth he also stripped me of my hindrance from a life of insignificance. When he overturned the table it was as if he grabbed the very walls around me and turned my entire life upside down. I was left dangling in the middle of the room, staring at the fragments of a life riddled with frivolity.
What he meant that day was that he wasn’t safe. He didn’t promise me a better life, at least not on my own terms. What he wanted was for me to be like him. He wanted me to have that same look of fury and conviction when I tell people about him.
I like that. It seems real. Life isn’t always rainbows, and he seemed like he got that.
Turns out that’s what I needed all along.
Someone to show me some fury and conviction.
Someone to look me in the eye and tell me what I was doing was wrong.
Someone to overturn my table.
This story is based on the story of Jesus cleansing the temple as he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Read it from John chapter 2.
If you missed part 1 of The Street Vendor click here.