Tag: Violence

Did Jesus blow his stack?

Photo courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration / Nevada Site Office – This image is available from the National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office Photo Library under number XX-34., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=190949

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” – John 2:13-16

Did Jesus lose his temper here?

The vendors and money-changers were not OUTSIDE of the temple. They were inside, in the courtyard where Gentiles were allowed to come and worship the Lord (this is the area where Ahmose-Nebetta meets Jesus in my story, The Cat Who Looked at the King.)

Jesus makes a whip out of cords and drives them all away. He chastises them in a voice that must have sounded like thunder and maybe even made some people fear for their lives. We seldom see Jesus angry during his earthly ministry. So his actions this day must have been a true terror to behold, for it was a taste of the wrath of God Himself! I wish I could have seen it, but at the same time maybe I’m glad I didn’t.

Many, many years ago in Ireland I met a very cute Catholic boy named Stephen. How we got onto this topic I will never remember, but for some reason this passage came up. He believed that Jesus actually sinned here, because he lost his temper. I said no, it was righteous anger, then Stephen said it’s never okay to lose your temper. That little exchange has bothered me all these years, mostly because I knew he was wrong but, as usual, I am total crap at apologetics.

But now I see where Stephen was mistaken. Firstly, Jesus did not lose his temper. Anger at injustice is not the same as flying off the handle for no reason.

Secondly, this was not a knee-jerk reaction of the moment. In Mark’s account of this story (Mark Chapter 11), after the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday, Jesus went into the temple and looked around at everything, then left. The next day he came back and drove everybody out.

This gave him time to decide on a plan of action. I will bet that night, back in Bethany, he got some cords of rope from Lazarus and while everyone was sitting around, laughing and singing and telling stories, Jesus was calmly making his whip, taking his time and making it a good one. One or two people have have asked him, “Master, what are you doing?” or joked, “I hope that’s not for me, Lord!” And Jesus probably smiled and kept at his task. The next morning they were probably all curious and a little nervous why he brought his new whip with him when they went back to Jerusalem. Or, perhaps he did tell them his plans, and they were eager to see the show but then got the living crap scared out of them when Jesus sprang into action.

Whatever happened, this was NOT Jesus “losing his temper.” Jesus never lost control of anything, ever, and he never will. This was a deliberate plan and also a teaching moment. He was showing God’s character yet again. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is not a “religion” that’s up for sale. The Temple was a sacred place, where people from all nations of the earth could come and worship the true and living God.

And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?” – Mark 11:17, quoting Isaiah 56:7)

That day in springtime, two thousand years ago, Jesus drove the greed and corruption out of HIS temple.

Two Wills in the Universe


One more tree will fall
   How strong the growing vine
Turn the earth to sand
   And still commit no crime
How one thought will live
   Provide the others die . . .
– John Lodge

Trying to make sense of the madness around us today, we should ask what is at the root of it all. Is the anarchy evil, or actually good at its core? 

The Bible (Galatians 5:22-23) describes the fruits of the Spirit (godliness) as:

On the flip side, the fruits of the sinful nature, or wickedness (Galatians 5:19-21) are:
Sexual immorality
Selfish Ambition
Orgies, etc.

We can meditate on these things and figure out the answer to today’s problems for ourselves.

The fruits of the Spirit and the fruits of wickedness showcase the two wills in the universe — the will of God and the will of the self.

Satan was the first to set his own will against the will of God. He said:
I WILL ascend to Heaven;
I WILL raise my throne above the stars of God.
I WILL sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost
heights of the sacred mountain.
I WILL ascend above the top of the clouds;
I WILL make myself like the Most High!
– Isaiah 14:13-14

In contrast, Jesus said, in the garden on the night he was betrayed:
Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; Yet not my will, but Thine be done. 
     – Luke 22:42

Satan, or Lucifer, beautiful cherub though he may once have been (see Ezekiel 28), is only a creature, made by the very Lord he wants to destroy. He is not God. He is a Creator of nothing. Yet he thinks he deserves to be God and wants to rule the universe. He cares for no one and nothing except himself. 

Jesus IS God (John 1:1). He made us (John 1:3). He has the right to rule the universe and subjugate us to his will. Yet his attitude is the opposite of Satan’s:

[Jesus] Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but rather emptied himself, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!  – Philippians 2:6-8

There are only two wills in the universe. All of us are on one side or the other. There is no neutral ground. Our nature without Christ is the sin nature — rage, jealousy, hatred, envy, lust, etc. Whatever goodness we might know comes not from ourselves, but from God, whether we are believers or not:

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” – James 1:17

“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteousness.” – Matthew 5:45

Once we belong to Christ, the Holy Spirit begins His work in us and we can know the joy of living in the gifts of the Spirit — Love. Joy. Peace. Kindness. Goodness. In Jesus alone is everything that our aching and dying hearts are crying out for and everything that this ugly, unhappy, violent world sorely lacks.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved . . . For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  – Romans 10:9-13