So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.
Reflection: Where is the Love?
By John Tillman
John’s account of the cleansing of the Temple is the most violent, showing Jesus making a weapon and wielding it. It’s probably why we don’t read it as often. It’s unsettling to see Jesus this way.
Jesus, the tender shepherd, whip in hand, panics the flocks and scatters them in chaos. Jesus the gentle carpenter, builder of tables and furniture, is kicking them over.
The detail of making the whip is important. Because Jesus takes the time to make a weapon we know he isn’t losing his temper or acting in rage. It is premeditated. He chose this fight and prepared for it.
In my acting work I have often used a script analysis technique from Michael Shurtleff’s book Audition, in which one looks for the love in every scene. Even scenes of violence and tumult are better understood once you find the love and understand what the characters are fighting for.
The testimony of the disciples tells us there is zeal, passion, love. But it is still hard for us to find amidst the chaos.
Where is the love in this scene? Who does Jesus love? Who or what is he fighting for?
We find a clue when Jesus answers the religious authorities’ challenge by predicting his own death and resurrection. How does his death and resurrection relate to the love in the scene?
For whom is he dying and how is it connected to the Temple cleansing?
The Temple represented God’s connection, his relationship, with the people of Israel. If Jesus was fighting for you to be able to reach him, what obstacle would he have to kick over? What have you placed in the way?
In this same chapter, John tells us that Jesus knows people. He knows we are as untrustworthy as the religious leaders in this scene, yet, he sacrifices for us. He knows we will mess up the Temple, our relationship with him, again and again, but he will just keep coming back to fight for us. Why? Because of His passion. Because of His zeal. Because of His love for us.
During this Lenten season, allow Jesus to clean out your Temple courts. Ask Jesus what needs to change so that you can better connect with God. Are you willing to let him do it? Or will you challenge his authority as the religious leaders did?
Thank Jesus for caring enough about you to keep kicking over your tables and cleaning up your mess.
Prayer: The Morning Psalm
Hear, O my people, and I will admonish you: O Israel, if you would but listen to me! — Psalm 81.8
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Read more about Setting a New Standard
Many scholars believe that Jesus cleansed the temple of buyers and sellers repeatedly—every time he visited Jerusalem.
Read more about Christ: Temple, River, and City
Perhaps the temple Ezekiel sees is the same one Christ told the Pharisees could be destroyed and rebuilt in three days…Christ himself is our temple.