“He made a whip from ropes and chased them all out…” John 2:15
It was a pleasant Saturday afternoon in the city, with shoppers looking for bargains and negotiating for the best prices. They learned to favor the tables and stalls in the portico of the church. It was cooler and one could take time looking over the animals, goods and produce. Although it was on church grounds, buyers knew these sellers had the best variety..
Because of the Passover feast, sales were brisk at the market as the people needed sacrificial animals. Commerce had crept into their worship so thoroughly that no one noticed…except for one man on this day.
Jesus was in Jerusalem to celebrate The Passover and remember, with his disciples, God’s deliverance from the Angel of death. The blood of an innocent lamb brought their deliverance, just as His blood was about to deliver all people from the penalty of their sins.
Jesus became incensed at what he saw; they were turning His Father’s house of worship into a house of commerce. This would not do. Grabbing common items readily available he fashioned a whip and returned to the temple/market renouncing their behavior, tossing tables over, scattering sellers and buyers alike, driving them and their animals from the temple!
Above the chaos, people heard his booming voice, “Get these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a place of business.” John 2:16 CEB
After this shocking display the Jewish leaders demanded that he explain his behavior; to which Jesus said, “All right. Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” NLT They didn’t understand he was referring to his own resurrection.
Would it be different today? Would we behave differently toward such extreme behavior from a pastor? Using hindsight and the benefit of two thousand years, we casually read over this event, understanding that Jesus was confronting the malaise of the church as it blended with the world, as many of us have today.
Jesus broke the religious rules; he challenged all current religious ideas of behavior and demanded action from his followers. Walking along the sea shore, Jesus called out to men, instructing them to lay down their lives right then and follow him. Not only did this cut off their earnings, it damaged the family business as well.
Would we respond differently today? If this type of Jesus barged into our church-world how would we receive him? If he showed up at a church bazaar, throwing tables and money about, what would we think? We would probably think he was crazy or too radical. We want church leaders who are more reasonable and predictable. We don’t want to be challenged to give up more and love more (especially to those who are slightly repugnant to us). We desire to feel comfortable in our church surroundings, smiling amiably to fellow members. We desire people who are easy to love.
Matt. 4:17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
Matt. 4:18-22 “As Jesus walked alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, throwing fishing nets into the sea, because they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.” 20 Right away, they left their nets and followed him. 21 Continuing on, he saw another set of brothers, James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee, their father repairing their nets. Jesus called them and 22 immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”
Jesus was the master of confrontation; the epitome of bluntness; his words penetrated the heart and stirred people to action.
Matt. 7:24-27 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
Matt. 8:21-22 “Another of his disciples said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me now. Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead.”
Would it be different today? Is it? Do we expect God to work through us, through our church services, through our daily lives? Do we take up our cross daily? Imagine our response to the Lord if He told us to walk away from the funeral proceedings we were responsible for, and follow Me!
Luke 9:23 “Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”
Most of us cling tightly to our lives, our plans, our responsibilities. A close friend’s mother passed away some time ago and he was overwhelmed with the details of her funeral and memorial service following. It was an emotional time for all of his family. Consider now, Jesus walking up to him, in the midst of planning, fixing his gaze upon him saying, “Walk away, leave all this and follow me. Let these others bury the dead.” That would be crazy, we would say. And yet that is exactly what Jesus did!”