Jesus and the Whip of Cords

Jesus and the Whip of Cords March 8, 2015

In the Gospel for this Sunday in John 2:14-16, we read about Jesus making a whip out of cords.  None of the other Gospels mention a whip.  Only in John does Jesus seem to lose control and start swinging at people and animals.

This passage has been used to justify many forms of violence in the history of the Church.  I myself have heard it used so many times as a prooftext that Jesus was no sissy and was willing to roll up his sleeves and “act like a man.”  So I wrote a post to try to correct the mistaken impression that Jesus was actually hitting people.  The Greek grammar is rather clear that he was only herding sheep and oxen with the ropes that he picked up.  You can read the rest here.  A sneak peak:

Nothing in this passage serves as justification for doing physical violence to other human beings, much less as a “just war” proof text.  Jesus was no sissy, but not because he went around whipping merchants.  If we want an example of his “manliness,” we need look no further than Sunday’s second reading from 1 Corinthians 1:22-25: “We proclaim Christ crucified… [for] the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”  Unfortunately (for some), such passages don’t justify the pummeling of one’s neighbor. We may just have to deal with the fact that it’s us, and not Jesus, who seem to want and need that justification.

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  • Chris Sullivan

    You are right Nathan, and your interpretation fits very well with Pope Francis homily yesterday that Jesus never strikes anyone.

    God Bless

  • Julia Smucker

    Your point about the “coercive power” based on “the authority of the voice of Jesus” reminds me of John Allen’s recent point (citing a political scientist named Joseph Nye, who I’m not familiar with) on “the Vatican as the world’s most important soft power — that is, a superpower not through military or economic might but by its ability to move hearts and minds.” The moral force of this is perhaps too often underestimated.

  • Ronald King

    I am going to read a book by Gerald Posner entitled God’s Bankers which was featured on John Stewart last Thursday. It seems the Vatican has more than soft power

  • It’s still a great example of biblical direct action.