In John 2:12-25 we read the story of Jesus cleansing the temple, which paints a different picture of Jesus’ personality than most churches preach these days.
Filled with zeal he drove merchants and their livestock out of the temple and flipped over tables. These merchants wouldn’t have left easily, which means Jesus drove them out with enough authority that they thought it better to run away than stand up against him. I bet that if we were to witness something similar it would be quite jarring.
When cleansing the temple Jesus didn’t act rashly or impulsively. In verse 15 it says, “And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple…” When you look at the word “cords” in the original Greek language it is rushes, which is a tall grass that was used for the livestock. This means Jesus took the time to gather the grass and make a whip, but not just any whip, one that was powerful enough to drive out animals and people. That takes time and thought.
The idea that Jesus chased animals and merchants out of the temple with a handmade, grass whip may seem crazy, but his actions were justified. The merchants, and the priests who allowed it, were not only defiling God’s temple, they were also exploiting those seeking to worship God in order to make money. This is not unlike pious prosperity gospel preachers that swindle people out of money by promising God will give it back to them tenfold, in order to line their own pockets and fuel their jets.
Additionally, these merchants were set up in the outer court, which was the only place Gentiles could come to worship God. By filling the court with merchants and livestock, they were essentially preventing the Gentiles from being able to come before God. Yet God desires all his people, both Jews and Gentiles, to be able to worship him.
Through Christ, we are all cleansed and there is no longer a separation of Jew and Gentile because we are all God’s children.
“John began with a miracle of conversion (changing water into wine). Then he showed Jesus performing a work of cleansing (the cleansing of the temple). This is always how Jesus works in His people: conversion first, then cleansing.”