It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. John 2:13-15
Each of us have things that are almost sacred to us. We might display them on a wall, under glass, or in a shadow box. If it’s a document, like a commendation or award, we might laminate it or frame it. We also put important papers in a file folder and wouldn’t think of folding them in half, lest we crease them. And then there’s love letters. We fasten them with a ribbon and tuck them away somewhere safe. Admittedly, to have someone trample on things sacred evokes strong emotions. I will erupt if something dear to me is damaged or destroyed.
My mother, the year before she died of cancer, made a quilt for Ron and for me. There was no sewing machine involved. Every inch of it was hand stitched. I often told her that it looked like she used a machine – so precise was her hem stitch. About ten years ago, I took it out of my cedar chest to discover that there were rips along the corners of more than a few patchwork squares. Years of tugging at it during the night had taken a toll. “Oh no, I’ve just got to fix it!” was my response. The first chance I got, out came my needle and thread.
If unraveling on my torn quilt could make me feel so deeply, can you imagine what Jesus felt when he entered the Temple area and saw what was happening on holy ground? This was the temple where His Father’s glory dwelt. This was the place where atonement was made for sin. This was the place where the rich and the poor alike could bring their best sacrifice and know that there would be no respecter of persons. But on this day, everything holy got trampled on. The business of the day was about extorting people, making exorbitant profits from the everyday Jew who had just traveled long distances.
But even more importantly, if the priests were crooked, the very ones who represented God’s likeness, then God would be considered crooked as well. He would be perceived as one who just wanted people for their money; valuable only if they funded the enterprise of everything related to the temple. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The face of God is always marred by crooked religion. God still gets angry when there is misrepresentation of His character. He is jealous for His own glory but there is another reason. The very people He created, the ones He loves and sacrificed His Son for, will be the ones who don’t trust Him. For this, Jesus made whips and disrupted commerce. Woe to the shepherds who cause the sheep to stumble over the God who loves them.
You fought with us in mind. And still do. Amen