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 the 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.” — John 2:13-17
It can be very tempting to define Jesus to fit our thinking of who He should be. None of us would likely say this directly, but lurking within each of us is a tendency to remake God in our image or at least in the image of whom we think He should be. This is a common practice in our culture today. Many have created their own version of Jesus to believe in. They create their own God.
In this passage we find one of those times when Jesus acts in such a way that many think just doesn’t fit with their version of God. This loving, gentle, kind, gracious Jesus makes a whip—a real whip—and “drove them all out of the temple” (John 2:15). This means he cracked the whip toward animals and people, physically forcing them to flee the temple. What a shocking picture of Jesus. It appears that He did this not just one time but twice, once (here) at the beginning of His public ministry and once near the end of His ministry life (Matthew 21:12-17).
Why would Jesus do this? How could He do this? The word ‘drove’ means to expel, cast out or throw out. This was no gentle act on His part, but rather could almost be viewed as violent. John tells us why Jesus did this in verse 17, “His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’”
God is God and will not be defined by us. Rather, He is the source and definer of all that is. The Bible, God’s revealed Word, grants us insight into who He is and how He acts. Therefore, we need to accept the full picture of what the Scriptures reveal about Him. This would include what we see exhibited in this passage—His passion for holiness, His zeal for purity, His righteous judgment and even His wrath and condemnation toward sin and sinners.
We need to allow the insight of this passage to remind us today that God is self-defined and will not be brought low, redefined, put in a box, or robbed of His attributes by our understanding. If you need a refresher into how amazing, almighty, majestic, holy and powerful God is, you could take some time this week to read slowly and prayerfully through the book of Isaiah asking God to remind you of His grandeur and greatness as you read. — Norm Miller
- In what ways do I try to define who God is?
- Does this picture of Jesus in the temple surprise me? Why?
- What is the danger in trying to define who God is?
Father God, You alone are God. Forgive me for trying to make You into something I created. You created me. Help me to see that when I grow to have a more accurate view of who You are, my life seems to fall into place as I trust You more and more. Amen.