Sunday was Palm Sunday. The day the crowds were ready to crown Jesus as king. "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest." This is the day they had been waiting for... the day Israel would be set free from the oppression of Roman rule... the day the promised Messiah would deliver his people and establish His kingdom on earth. The air was filled with anticipation, and as the night grew dark, the excitement refused to sleep. The next day, Jesus walks into the temple and what He observes makes His stomach turn. The same people who were ready to make Him king were now in the temple preparing their hearts for worship. But instead of bringing their own animals, those that were without spot or blemish, they simply bought one from the merchants in the temple courts. Of course, they weren't as good as the animals they had at home, but it sure was more convenient. And in the end, it allowed them to fulfill their religious obligation without a great deal of personal cost.
Jesus looked at the compromise that filled the temple and he knew it reflected the hearts of those who wanted to crown him as king. They liked the idea of worshiping God on their terms. They preferred a religion that minimized sacrifice and maximized benefit. They were all for Jesus when He did what they wanted Him to do. But when He began to turn over the tables in the temple, they just stood and stared. They began to realize that this might actually cost them something.
It was a subtle but important shift. Those who were ready to crown Jesus as king began to wonder if this was such a good idea. After all, they like the idea of Jesus as one who would conquer their enemies and give them a comfortable life, but they were not as excited about the idea of Him ruling over their heart as well. They preferred the idea of a customized Messiah that came with minimal cost and maximal benefit... and we are not all that different.