Whips And Tables And Flying Change – Oh My!
13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 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. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
There needs to be a preface to these scriptures. Jesus was the firstborn child of Mary, stay-at-home mom, and her husband Joseph the carpenter. However,being conceived by the Holy Spirit, they were not his biologically parents, but rather God’s chosen surrogate parents. During the life of Christ on Earth, as the firstborn son, He would have been taught His father’s trade. Carpentry at that time was far more intense than it is today. Without the use of modern machinery, a carpenter would have to shape each piece wood using rudimentary tools. This required a LOT of strength. They would have to move beams and trees into position, cut them to their proper lengths, and further refine the wood into their final shapes, then use them in whatever fashion was required for the job.
There was a man in Pennsylvania who owned his own sawmill. He was the only employee, a sole proprietor. A man came in to his workshop one day to see about having some lumber that he and a friend had cut from a felled tree to be quarter-sawn into planks for use in building boxes and chests. While he was talking, the sawyer picked up a huge tree with one hand that had just been sawn on the head saw, and placed it on the resaw to be cut into planks. The tree section must have weighed well over one hundred pounds. Most people would be unable to do this, but because the sawyer did this type of work every day, his strength was amazing. He wasn’t a towering man, but extremely strong. Now the stage is set.
Answer to Anger
Jesus never once sinned. When He arrived at Holy Temple of God, he was the market that was occurring in the court of the Gentiles at the periphery of the Temple grounds. This was a place where non-Jews could come and worship God. Jesus became very angry. But Jesus didn’t immediately go out and talk to the people who were desecrating the holy ground of the temple, like most of us would. He did something else, something that each of us should learn – and do – when faced with a situation that infuriates us to the point of seeing red. He paused.
Meekness is a word that is often misunderstood. Meekness means “strength under control”. It does not mean weakness, but rather a measured reaction proportionate to the circumstance. The word of God doesn’t say that Jesus burst on the scene yelling and screaming. He instead took the time to make a whip. This is not a task that is usually done fast. To braid a good whip, it takes manual dexterity, time, effort, and patience. The word of God doesn’t say how long the whip was, but it gave Jesus time to reflect on how He would respond to this mockery and desecration of The Lord God Almighty’s house.
Many people believe that Jesus was merely a soft-spoken, wimpy, gentle guy who just loved everyone and exuded a form of effeminate weakness. On the contrary – when the situation called for it, Jesus used His strength and powerful words:
24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”
25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, … 34 “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”
Jesus also said:
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
Jesus didn’t mince words with those that were self-righteous. These are not the gentle, kind words of a soft-spoken, timid man. And when He saw His father’s house being used to cheat the people, and denying the Gentiles access to worship God in the temple, He also said,
“Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”
But Jesus didn’t only talk. Let’s go back and remember the sawyer placing the cut log on the saw for cutting. Jesus was STRONG. He put his back into His labor because He never sinned, and everything He did, He did with ALL OF HIS MIGHT to the glory of God. Years of carpentry would have chiseled His body into that of a bodybuilder. Jesus, under those robes, would have looked formidable.
Now let’s go back to the court of the Gentiles. Take a step back, and look at the scene through the eyes of an observer nearby. All of the sudden, a Jewish teacher of the law appears in his white robe with a whip in one hand driving out the cattle, and the other hand overturning tables. He was furious! He wouldn’t have just toppled the tables. Although the word of God does not describe exactly how He overturned them, it would be easy to picture this: with a whip cracking in one hand, and throwing heavy tables UP INTO THE AIR with the other hand, no one would have wanted to be in His path. Anyone capable of throwing heavy furniture WITH ONE HAND into the air – and deftly using a whip in the other – would have been an amazing, if not formidable, sight indeed. Everyone would have scattered – the money they would lose would not be worth the threat of their life with this whip-wielding, table throwing man rebuking them for desecrating the house of Almighty God.
Jesus was no wimp – He was meek. His formidable strengths were completely under His control.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: When I am emotionally provoked, how do I respond?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, Your word is amazing. Thank You for showing me how to temper my anger. Give me the courage and ability to ensure that the strengths that You have provided to me are kept under control at all times. Instill within me the ability to react and respond to any situation that I may find myself in a way that honors and glorifies Your name. Help me to properly channel my emotions so that they will not control me, but that I would use them in a constructive way. Help me to always remember that You are a loving and kind God, but that when required, You will show Your strength and power. Help me to yield myself to Your guidance in all things, that I would not dishonor You with my thoughts, words, or actions. This I ask in the precious and mighty name of Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen.
Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?