Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple is an act of premeditated rage.
In our haste to divorce ourselves from the old, punitive image of a wrathful and vengeful God, we have at times come too close to domesticating Jesus.
We picture him with perfect hair in a clean robe always speaking softly and reasonably.
If we try to think about Jesus being angry, we might remember this story, when he drives the moneychangers from the Temple.
But our mental image of Jesus in this situation is him flying off the handle, losing his temper and abruptly descending into a violent tirade.
It turns out neither scenario is true. Jesus is not the mealy-mouthed meek and mild Sunday school picture, but nor is he a two-year-old throwing a tantrum.
Jesus sees what is happening in the Temple and decides, ahead of time, to use his holy anger as a sign to the people.
We know this because of John 2:15. It says, “Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.”
“Making a whip of cords.” Jesus didn’t just show up at the Temple one day and start kicking over tables on the spur of the moment.
He made a decision to express his anger, and then went aside to make a whip of cords.
That took time. That took effort. He had to find supplies, for heaven’s sake.
How do you make a whip of cords? I don’t know, but it’s not something you toss off in ten minutes.
Jesus had a message to communicate, and he chose this dramatic and visceral action, almost like performance art, to convey it.
He loosed the reins on his passion and emotion for his people, and let his heart show.
It is at once intimidating—to think of Jesus committing premeditated violence, however justified—and deeply moving to see his vulnerability. Continue reading