“You have made my house a den of thieves!” ~Luke 19:46
It was almost time for the Passover Festival, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. There in the Temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and pigeons, and also the moneychangers sitting at their tables. So he made a whip from cords and drove all the animals out of the Temple, both the sheep and the cattle; he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and scattered their coins; and he ordered those who sold the pigeons, “Take them out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that the scripture says, “My devotion to your house, O God, burns in me like a fire.” John 2:13-17 (Good News Translation)
If you did not know these verses and heard them read to you, would you think it sounded like something Jesus would do? Remember those bracelets that were so popular years back? WWJD. The idea was to remind ourselves of what Jesus might do in response to ordinary situations in our lives. I think most wearing the bracelets would consider emulating Christ in the above verses would seem crazy! Yet, it is what Jesus did.
Obviously turning the temple courtyard into a bazaar regularly, probably weekly, was routine behavior for these marketeers. The sacredness of God’s House was diminished, probably forgotten as the men set up their stalls and tables, lining up the items for sale, tying on their money pouches, imagining healthy profits.
The same Pharisees who accused Jesus of blasphemy were condoning turning God’s House into a market. Perhaps they rented the spaces for increased personal gain. At any rate, they participated in “selling” their souls for profit while diminishing the temple’s standing as God’s house.
Jesus is walking past, talking with his disciples when his eye catches movement in the temple courtyard. He slows his gait as his head turns to take it all in. He is shocked and angered. He knows they have opened the door to worldly treasures to take the place of heavenly ones. He must get their attention’ get everyone’s attention. He turns back to his followers and asks who has the material necessary to make a whip.
Their brows furrow and they ask him to repeat Himself. “I want to make a whip,” he says. “Who has what I need?” Still puzzled, someone says that a friend nearby can help. So they walk to his friend’s house and Jesus gets the cords and handle with something to tie it all together. Then, without explaining himself, he walks back to the temple courtyard.
By now their pulses are racing and their curiosity is heightened. What is the Lord going to do with this whip? Not one of the disciples would guess what Jesus has in mind. It would not compute. But then, as they stand astonished, Jesus walks directly into the sales area and wreaks havoc on all the salesmen.
He yells at them, “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” He begins whipping everyone in reach as he shouts and kicks over tables, shooing animals and birds away, tossing carefully lined up stacks of money to the four winds. He might have yelled something like, “This is My Father’s house. You’ve made a mockery of its holiness.” He is fierce in demeanor, powerful in speech. He is no ordinary man. He is God’s Son and those defiling God’s Temple are scattered, licking their wounds, wondering when they can slink back to retrieve their items (which haven’t run away for good).
Can you imagine his disciples, standing in the street, staring in disbelief? This is the Messiah. Their Lord and Savior acting like a crazy man with fury. How could He be doing this? His behavior is like that of a brute, a thug throwing over tables, whipping men, breaking things. Is he out of control. Crazy. What is he doing?
And now you and me. What do we think when we take time to read sentence by sentence, verse by verse. This is Jesus out of control. But how can that be. He is God’s Son. Our Savior. His every step is directed by God, after all.
John 5:19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.
Surely God would not resort to such harmful, bizarre behavior. If God did not direct Jesus to do this, then the Bible is not worth reading. It is a hoax. Well no, the Bible is not a hoax but how could this be? Wait, is this a parable? No. It really happened and God ordained it. Jesus went to Reuben’s (or whatever his name was) home and made a whip. Then he walked back to the temple and turned everything upside down, whipping men in the process. And He was directed to do this by His heavenly Father.
What might this example mean to us, more than 2,000 years later? Since we have the Holy Spirit in us and He has a direct line to God (Romans 8:26-28), we can be directed by God in the same way Jesus was. God wants to direct our steps. He wants to help us pray. He wants to refine our behavior and make us more like Christ.
John 14:16 Then I will ask the Father to send you the Holy Spirit who will help you and always be with you.