Learning about Jesus can be a rewarding and life-changing experience. In this post, Steph Beth Nickel explores a surprising side of Jesus – His cleansing of the temple.
In John 14:15(ESV), Jesus says,
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
In this series of devotionals, we will examine why we should heed these words and how we can do so. We will be working our way through the gospel of John, my personal favourite.
About Jesus and Children
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.
For example, Matthew 19:14 (ESV) reads this way:
“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
In Luke 10:38-39(ESV), 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.”
You must understand that in Jesus’ day neither women nor children were held in high regard. They certainly didn’t enjoy a prominent place in society. And yet, Jesus welcomed the little children—whom His disciples wanted to turn away.
About Jesus and Women
In addition, Jesus said that Mary had made the better choice by sitting at His feet. (When Jesus walked the earth, students of the rabbi—or “teacher”—would literally sit at their master’s feet.) Mary’s sister, Martha, complained that her sister wasn’t helping in the kitchen. In response, Jesus said that Mary had made the better choice.
Women and children were not the only members of society who were looked down upon. Tax collectors and fishermen were viewed with distain. And guess who Jesus chose as His disciples? Many of their words and actions would be preserved in the Bible and thereby, make the Saviour known to this very day.
These incidents paint a picture of a kindhearted, loving individual. There are many other passages that emphasize these traits as well. However, were we to focus solely on those verses, we would miss another side of Jesus’ character.
About Jesus and Righteous Indignation
In John 2:13-17(ESV), 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. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade. His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’”
Jesus actually took the time to actually make a whip. He drove out the merchants from the temple and overturned their tables.
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.
Jesus knew all of this when He arrived at the temple. And what He 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 that He took the time to make the whip from chords. That wouldn’t have happened instantaneously.
A Lesson to Learn
What does this teach us? Among other things, we learn that there is a time and place to get fired up about injustice and corruption. It also teaches us 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 is possible to exemplify character traits that appear contradictory.
But consider James 1:20(ESV), which says,
“The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
May we more clearly reflect Jesus and His nature as the days go by.
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Images courtesy of:
Jesus Cleanses the Temple – Scarsellino
Jesus Blessing Children – Maes
Woman – Unsplash
Jesus and Whip – Bernardo Mei