Mark 11:17

Then he began to teach. “Does not scripture say,” he asked, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”


prayer is no guarantor
of repentance

the lure of profit
taking advantage
of human foibles
is persistent
prayer is no guarantor
of repentance

models of meaning
live well beyond
every evidence
that it crashed
prayer is no guarantor
of repentance

its assumptions
rest on unverifiable hope
unsubstantiated trust
conditioned love
prayer is no guarantor
of repentance

soft power is still power
susceptible to trembling
all too quick to abandon
a fruitful wilderness
prayer is no guarantor
of repentance


The preceding actions of stopping and blocking commercial activity in the Temple sets the scene for a Teach-In.

Sabin2101 helps us distinguish between the two writings referenced.

In interweaving these two passages, Mark is juxtaposing two very different strands in biblical tradition. The passage from Jeremiah [about crooks] expresses a warning about being corrupted by foreigners…. The passage from Isaiah [house of prayer] expresses the vision of a time when foreigners will want to join Israel in worship….

Noting a “tension and complexity” of the joining of these two quotes into one sentence, Sabin2 continues:

On the one hand, the quotation from Jeremiah places [Jesus] in the tradition of the reforming prophets seeking to purify Temple worship of foreign influences. On the other hand, the quotation from Isaiah places him in the tradition of the visionary prophets seeking to bring all people together by welcoming foreigners into God’s house.

There are other comparisons to be made between court prophets and reforming prophets. Court prophets, or priests, are those who are morally injured by their self-imposed limit of protecting whatever religious leadership is currently in place. This brings a next news cycle about a religious leader who is caught with their hand in the till or the pants of another.

Whether suffering and death come from fear of foreigners or those who maintain injustice, universal partnership is a key antidote.

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