Intolerant of Insolence
Read John 2:13-17 (ESV)
The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And 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. And he told those who sold pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume you.”
How does Jesus’ righteous indignation further reveal His heart?
When you picture Jesus, what usually comes to mind? I think most of us like to picture Jesus like a shepherd gently leading us, His sheep. We also like to picture Him placing young children on His knee, healing the sick, and raising the dead. And of course, we love to think of Him in all of His resurrected glory, triumphant over sin and death.
We are so used to picturing Jesus’ love, compassion, kindness, and glory that we sometimes forget that what makes a person angry can tell us a lot about them, too. What made Jesus angry?
In today’s passage of Scripture, John records an incident in which Jesus “cleansed” the temple as the heading in my Bible says. In other words, God’s house had become dirty. It had been contaminated. So Jesus cleaned house!
This episode shows us that Jesus held the temple, the place where God’s presence resided in the Holy of Holies, in highest regard. It also showed us that Jesus cared about how His people were being treated.
It was Passover time so Jerusalem was filled with out-of-towners. I know what this is like because on Husker home football games, my home city becomes a sea of red out-of-towners. Of course, business people know how to take full advantage! People who live close to the stadium know they can charge quite a bit of money to turn their yard into a convenient parking lot. In the stadium, they know people need to eat and drink. So they can charge whatever they want. People will pay it because they have to.
The same thing was happening to God’s people. Many had traveled a long way to celebrate the Passover. They needed to sacrifice animals to cover their sin. But it didn’t make any sense to travel that far with their sacrificial animal in tow. So they’d buy an animal at the temple for convenience. The problem was price gouging. The temple merchants knew they could charge the people whatever they wanted. The people would pay it because they had to. God’s people, who were seeking to be made right with Him via sacrificial worship, were being taken advantage of.
They were also being exploited by the money changers. Jews needed to pay the temple tax every year and the money changers would exchange their foreign currency for them—for a fee. An exorbitant fee. These merchants weren’t out to provide such services for the Jewish people because they saw a need, met it, and expected a fair price in exchange for their services. No, these merchants were making money off of people who had come to worship the Lord in His Holy Temple. Jesus had no tolerance for their insolence. He didn’t put up with their lack of reverence for God. Rather than allow them to continue disrespecting His Father’s house and His Father’s people, Jesus drove them out.
He was angry because people were arrogantly disrespecting the God of the universe in His own house and hurting God’s people in the process. But Jesus’ anger was righteous—even in His anger, He did not sin. Love drove His anger. Love for God the Father and love for the people who sought Him and cried out to Him for forgiveness. Yes, Jesus is loving, patient, kind, compassionate, powerful and glorious. But He is intolerant of insolence. God is holy. And we’d better recognize it.
Jesus, I praise You because You are loving, compassionate, gracious, and merciful. But may I never forget that You are also holy. You deserve honor, respect, and the highest praise. I also praise You because You are a God of holiness and righteousness. You will not allow injustice to go unpunished. One day, You will right all wrongs. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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