The Gospel tells us we must always be accomplishing good things. Jesus uses a parable in action to tell us that. He saw a fig tree that was not bearing fruit because it was not the season for figs, and he took a most unusual step: hoping his disciples would catch on that he was viewing the tree as standing for one of them, he cursed the tree that bore no fruit. The next day they were to find the tree withered, but it was not until much later that they grasped the lesson, that although a tree is allowed its fallow seasons, we humans must always be doing God’s work.
His driving the tradesmen out of the temple bore somewhat the same message. As odd as it seems to us now, the temple’s role in worshipping God was carried out on its large fireplace for roasting animals. The fragrance of the roasting animals was thought to rise to God as a sweet smelling prayer.
I don’t know the temple compound’s exact size, but if the walled-in area of the temple measured a hundred thousand square feet, at least eighty thousand of that was not given over to prayer or worship. That four-fifths of the temple area was given over to marketing animals for sacrifices on the altar, and Jesus resented its use being taken from God and given to hucksters. (In today’s lesson we might see that unholy area as being equivalent to both the tree’s fallow season and all the hours in our lives lost to Godly works.)