Today’s passage: John 2:13–24
Focus verse: “Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:16)
When you think of Jesus, what image comes to mind?
Is it Jesus, meek and mild? The little children gather around him and he gazes at them, his eyes brimming with compassion.
In another scene, Jesus stands on a boat near the shore. He instructs the people who flock to hear his counter-cultural words that remove judgment and emphasize love.
Another image is Jesus as the Good Shepherd—our Good Shepherd. He cares for his sheep, feeds the little lambs, and protects the flock from danger.
For the one sheep that wanders off and gets lost or hurt, Jesus searches for it, finds it, and carries it back to the fold in his gentle, loving arms. Oh, to be safe in the arms of Jesus, secure in his embrace.
We celebrate Jesus who feeds the hungry, heals the hurting, and gives hope to the hopeless. We uphold his example and want to be more like him.
And even when the mob comes to arrest Jesus, he does not resist them. He does not seek his freedom or call an army of angels to rescue him. He goes with them without complaint.
Later, when on trial, accused and facing death, he says nothing to defend himself. He stays silent and accepts his fate.
This is how I view Jesus.
Yet Jesus has another side, one that’s easy for us to forget. It’s a physical Jesus, intense, one consumed with zeal.
In Jerusalem for the Passover, Jesus goes to the courtyard of the temple. He finds people conducting business instead of worshiping God.
Some sell the cattle, sheep, and doves needed for the various sacrifices. Others serve as a currency exchange. They make a nice profit for their efforts. Though both enable worship, they don’t belong in the temple courts, at the very doors to the temple.
Incensed at how they have disrespected his father’s house, Jesus fashions a whip. He drives the merchants out of the temple’s courtyard, including their animals. He overturns the tables of the money changers, scattering coins everywhere. “Get out! My father’s house is not a marketplace!”
No one tries to stop him. They scurry away.
Is this an example that gives us permission to get violent for God? No. Remember that Jesus is God. His actions promote worship that respects his Father and the temple as a place of worship and connection.
Instead, this passage serves as a reminder to not let money and the world’s activities encroach on our worship time and our worship space.
- When you think of Jesus, which of this lesson’s images come to mind?
- What practices might we do today that make Jesus just as angry?
- How does your zeal compare to Jesus’s?
- How willing should you be to make a ruckus for Jesus?
- What must you do to not let money or worldly activities detract from your worship?
Discover the foreshadowing of this event in Psalm 69:9. What insights can you glean from this passage?
Read the next lesson or start at the beginning of this study.
Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
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