When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 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. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
So I thought I’d quickly share with you a a couple of thoughts triggered by that passage.
First, isn’t it weird the way it feels like Jesus didn’t know what he’d find at the temple? It feels like he just wandered in, looked around, and went, “Whoa! What is all this bullshit?” Which to me is weird, because somehow I always figure Jesus is walking around just sort of knowing everything that’s going to happen. So I dig this feel that actual, physical reality surprised him the way it sure always does me.
What next really jumped out at me was, So he made a whip out of cords. Because … how did that work? Just the day before he had in an instant turned 150 gallons of water into top-notch wine. So this isn’t a guy who needs stuff to do stuff: with a deeply drawn breath he could have literally blown everybody away, hurricane-style. But instead he takes a moment to actually fashion a whip. So I picture him, fully enraged—but having to stop for a moment to look around for something he can use to effectively express that rage. So he must have gone up to someone there—like, a cord vendor at a nearby table—and said real quickly, “Yeah, can I borrow a couple of your cords? Just three of these long ones here should do it. I only need ‘em for a moment. And afterwards you’ll have a souvenir you’ll want to hang onto. Trust me on that.” And then the cord guy’s like, “Daaaamn. That guy can really handle a whip. I should go into the whip business.”
But mostly what strikes me about this passage is how insane Jesus must have seemed. What he did is crazy public behavior. Even his disciples thought that he had been “consumed by zeal.” Consumed! As in “lost to.” As in full-on, snapped the [bleep] out bonkers. It’s like walking into the biggest, nicest bank in a big city and screaming “Get out! Everybody out!” while attacking and flipping over all the desks of the people who work there. Witnesses would be calling the police and punching their secret alarm buttons so fast they’d get carpel tunnel fingers. Everybody would be terrified. Because clearly there was a deranged psychotic in their midst.
So I love this passage, because it reminds me of how vital it is that I, like Jesus, don’t be afraid of sometimes seeming batshit crazy. When something is wrong it’s wrong. If it needs fixing now than now is the time to fix it. I don’t have to wait to right a wrong in a way that doesn’t upset anyone; I don’t have to worry about offending anyone, or making too much of a spectacle, or seeming the fool. Screw all that. If people want to point, be aghast, or even laugh at me, that’s none of my business.
Like Jesus I’ll simply make my business doing God’s business, and let the rest take care of itself.
I once began a series on John that started with The Trinity Explained in Four Sentences: John 1: 1-4