April 08, 2013

An angry Jesus!

John 2:13-17
13The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17His disciples remembered that it was written,“Zeal for your house will consume me.”


his story has always fascinated me. I thoroughly enjoyed the recent History Channel miniseries “The Bible.” And I should probably say right up front that I don’t mind a bit of artistic license intended to shrink history’s most amazing story into a 10-hour miniseries made for television. So what I’m about to say is in now way a slam on the producers of that fine miniseries.

“The Bible’s” depiction of Jesus overturning the money changers tables in the temple did not match what I have always thought when reading this story.

To sum up my understanding of this story, the money changes in the template were there to sell sacrificial animals to the people who did not have one to sacrifice. These people would be the poor people because the wealthy already had oxen and sheep and pigeons were allowed only if the person making the sacrifice could not afford oxen or sheep. Some have theorized that the animals sold this way were likely not of the quality demanded by the law (a lamb “without spot or blemish”). That very well may be, although I don’t think the bible indicates that. But it does indicate, through Jesus’ words, that the money changers were selling these animals in a way that made the money changes thieves. That could mean that the animals had blemishes, or that they were being sold at exorbitant rates. We don’t know exactly why Jesus said they were making his father’s house a den of thieves, but we do know that he was unhappy.

“The Bible” showed a mildly disgruntled Jesus tipping the tables up and over. I think Jesus was far angrier than that. Typically, someone who is mildly disgruntled doesn’t make a whip out of cords, dump out cash registers, and flip the market stalls. I think Jesus was majorly torqued and was making it quite clear that this was unacceptable.

Anything that Jesus finds this repulsive should hit our radar as well. On the other hand... the bible instructs us to pay the worker his wages.

For what it’s worth, I’m going to give my thoughts on this subject. I think each of us needs to examine our own hearts to make sure that we are not using God’s house to make money on personal ventures. I am also convicted that we should not support others who use God’s house to make money on their own personal ventures. When people come to present their “ministries” to our congregations, do they demand a fee, or do they ask for a love offering to cover anything over the mandatory expenses? Does a conference speaker demand that everyone present purchase his materials/books?

I think it’s good practice to offer resources to the congregation when a speaker or musician visits. That benefits the people of God and helps defray the expenses for the visitor. But I believe this should always be done in a libertarian way, allowing the individual people the opportunity to purchase resources, support the ministry, and get involved&30151;but not coercing them into doing so.

I know this has rambled on a bit, but these are things I have thought for quite some time and this passage from my morning devotions brought it to mind.

Leave a comment if you have thoughts on this, especially if you disagree. After all... iron sharpens iron.

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