A Picture of Jesus In The Temple
In our minds, many of us have a picture of Jesus in the temple as he zealously cleanses it from corruption. We often think of his actions as the definition of zeal, and somehow at odds with his character.
If you ask people to describe Jesus Christ, you will often hear words like meek, gentle, and loving … and He is all of those things.
“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14 ESV
In Luke we read,
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.” Luke 10:38-39 ESV
You must understand that in Jesus’ day neither women nor children were thought highly of. They certainly didn’t enjoy a prominent place in society … and yet, Jesus welcomed the little children—whom His disciples wanted to turn away.
In addition, Jesus said that Mary had made the better choice by sitting at His feet. Her sister, Martha, complained that Mary wasn’t helping in the kitchen. In response, Jesus said that Mary had made the better choice.
A Different Side of Jesus
These incidents paint a picture of a kindhearted, loving individual. However, were we to focus solely on those verses, we would miss another side of Jesus’ character.
In John 2:13-17, we read a story that may surprise you.
“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen….His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’”
Can you imagine?
First, let me explain the scenario. Annually, the Hebrew people would travel to the temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. They were to offer animal sacrifices to the Lord when they got there. Whether their offering was deemed imperfect—or for some other reason, they didn’t have an animal to sacrifice—it gave merchants an opportunity not only to sell them a replacement but to overcharge for it as well.
What Jesus saw caused righteous indignation to well up. Does that mean He lost control of His temper and flew off the handle? Absolutely not! For one thing, the passage teaches us that He took the time to actually make the whip from chords.
What does this teach us? Among other things, we learn that there is a time and place to get fired up about injustice and about corruption. It also teaches us that there is a godly and appropriate way to respond.
In those moments, did Jesus cease to be kind and loving? Most definitely not! As we mature in faith, we will discover that it’s possible to exemplify character traits that appear contradictory.
But consider James 1:20, which says, “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Stephanie is a freelance writer and a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio.