A lot of folks read the story about Jesus chasing the cattle and sheep out of the temple, of Jesus overturning the tables of the business-people there, and they infer that Jesus was angry, that he was displaying a holy wrath.
But that’s not what the stories actually say. In fact, since the stories never say what Jesus was feeling. Anybody who declares what Jesus was feeling – whether they think he was angry or whatever – are using something *other* than Scripture for that statement. Mostly, they’re imposing their own imagination into the gap of where the Bible is silent.
That is not Bible interpretation. That’s abusing the Bible to justify your own prejudices and misunderstandings of who God really is.
So what does the Bible actually say?
The first time, in John 2, it says that Jesus saw what was going on in the temple, and then stopped to weave a whip out of cords (literally, out of cords made from rushes, from plants like grass). Some observations:
• It takes a fair bit of time to make a whip, and it takes even longer to make one out of *small* cords. This was not a rash action, not an act of rage or passion. This was carefully thought out.
• The sort of whip you make from rushes or small cords is not a weapon. It’s a flimsy thing, only useful for driving livestock. This is not Indiana Jones’ favorite weapon; it’s more like a sisal rope. It will get the animal’s attention, but no more.
• The record is very clear: Jesus used even that wimpy whip only on the cattle and sheep. He reacted to the people differently, and unpleasantly for them, but Jesus did not go after people with even a wimpy whip.
The second event (Matthew 21, Mark 11, and Luke 19) is different. Jesus came into the temple during his “Triumphal Entry” on Palm Sunday. So he saw the shopping mall that they were setting up that day.
But it was the *next* day that he came back and cleaned the place out [Mark 11:11-12].
This was not a rash action either. He went back to his AirBNB outside town, and took no action whatsoever until the next day. He certainly had time to think through his choices. And knowing how Jesus did things, I’ll bet he talked it over with Father before he did anything. After all, this is the guy who said, he “can do only what he sees his Father doing” [John 5:19]. So apparently, cleaning out the temple was something he saw his Father doing.
Conclusion: the actual facts of what the Bible says about these events, absolutely do not support the idea of Jesus flying off the handle, Jesus in a rage, Jesus having a temper tantrum. Jesus was not out of control.
Yes, he did clean the place out. Yes, he did make a big old mess. Yes, he interrupted business in a very big way.
But there is no record of him ever hurting anyone, either human or animal. This was not an emotional reaction of any sort: in both cases, the record is very clear that he took his time before responding.
Summary: there are lot of folks who have a vested interest in the idea of an angry God. Some of them have leathery wings. But the New Testament doesn’t actually support that silly idea nearly as much as they shout and fuss.
Don’t believe their shouting and fussing.
Odd thought just crossed my mind. Romans 5 is happening, or
something like it.
We’re sure seeing a lot of the works of darkness revealed over the past several months: riots in the streets, bad people, bad plans and bad actions are caught. (Keep praying along that they’d be revealed, of course. And brought to justice.)
But then there’s Romans 5:
• Romans 5:10: For if, while we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
• Romans 5:15: But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
• Romans 5:17: For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
• Romans 5:20b: But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.
The principle that I think I might be hearing is this: if we’re seeing the works of dark spirits, how much more will the Holy Spirit be accessible to us in that time and place?
I think we’ll find him willing to share his heart with us. And I’ll bet you a shiny new nickel that it’s kind of a whole lot more encouraging than the sewage the spirits of darkness are spreading around.
Note: I believe that the revelation will come in unfamiliar form, perhaps in hard-to-recognize form. It may be in unusual coincidences, or stray thoughts in your imagination, or casual conversation. I was overwhelmed by Holy Spirit speaking about our days in a Marvel movie the other night. Keep your eyes open.
Where sin abounds (and isn’t it abounding now?), Grace (God’s power, God’s direction) much more abounds.
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” [MT 5:17]
They’re saying “Fulfilled means it’s still valid. You’re still obligated.”
Others say, “No, Fulfilled means it’s done, it’s concluded. It did its job, and now it’s over.”
So I thought, Let’s see how that word is used in other places in the Bible. That should give us an idea of what it means here.
So here’s a list. This is just part of the New Testament list, but the Old Testament use of the word is similar. (See the links to the full list in the footnotes)
Suggestion: For each verse, ask: “Does ‘fulfilled’ mean ‘It’s still in power; you’re still obligated’? or does ‘fulfilled’ mean ‘It’s done, concluded, and here’s the result’?”
where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of
Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
and he went and lived in a town called
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “ ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”
But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of
“Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”
Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us,
“I am the Lord's servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to
They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations.
It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
“Let's not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let's decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” So this is what the soldiers did.
Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”
These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”
and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus.
But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer.
The people of
he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: “ ‘You are my son; today I have become your father.'
Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.”
Which is it?
Still in power; still obligated?
It’s done, concluded, finished?
So here’s a list.
This is just part of the New Testament list (whole NT list: http://bit.ly/1MbLMaf),
but the Old Testament use of the word (whole OT list: http://bit.ly/1MbLMqF) is similar.
“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
I have some children, and now they have children. And of course, once upon a time, I was a young child myself.
But all in all, there’s WAY more “yes and amen” than “do not touch” in the Kingdom of God.
Go forth. Explore. Discover your freedom.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” [2Corinthians 1:3,4]
He befriended them (Matthew 9:9), he brought them close to him, he put them on his ministry team (Matthew 10:3, Luke 6:15), he trusted his reputation to him (the book of Matthew), he went out of his way to hang out with him (Luke 19:5).
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
In these passages, God’s telling us to focus our attention on stuff that – should we actually put our attention on them – we’d become “excellent” and “praiseworthy” in our character; we’d become Christ-like.
But regardless of the result, it’s still a command. “Do this.” “Think about such things.” “Fix your eyes on Jesus.”
Authority over cities. I’ve never ruled a city, but I imagine that it it’s not boring. Particularly if I consider Jesus’ model for ruling, which is largely based on washing feet. That’s a lot of people to serve, to assist into their full destiny.
• I don’t actually need divine wisdom for dealing with slavery, temple prostitution, arranged marriages, leprosy, and other topics that the Bible did deal with literally. But there are principles that, if I consider them metaphorically, have application to my Facebook interactions and my driving habits.
I don't mean that metaphorically, this is literal: I love that book, I love those stories. Even more, I love the precious revelation of this relationship that I've been reborn into, the Story of Covenant.
However, I'm far more interested in hearing Holy Spirit speaking through the words than I'm interested in taking the words of the translators - skilled as they are - for my definitive final word.
Even if I could get past the translators, if I could have walked around with Peter and Paul and John and hear them, in their original language, share their experiences and counsel of their relationship with God, I'd still rather talk with God, face to face.
And I think He'd prefer that, too.
This is about a relationship, isn't it? A PERSONAL relationship, right? So the relationship with the person is the authoritative reference.
I am thankful for my marriage certificate. It tells me about a relationship that is precious to me. But I can tell you that I'd much rather curl up before the fireplace with the Lady named in that certificate, than with the certificate itself.
The certificate is valuable, priceless even. The Lady, and my relationship with her, is even more priceless.
There’s a big difference between us going out on our own and spreading the Good News of the Kingdom because we like it, and being sent on assignment to to do the very same work.
We’re sent. We're on assignment. Commissioned by Heaven.
Jesus sent us: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” [John 20:21]
Think about that first word, “As” for a minute: This is like what Father has done.
You and I are sent under the same terms and conditions that applied when Father sent Jesus to Earth.
Let that mess with your head for a minute. Jesus was sent as the embodiment of Heaven to extend the Kingdom (“kingship”) of heaven on Earth. Every time Jesus confronted darkness, the Kingdom of Heaven emerged victorious. Every time Jesus met someone sick, he healed them.
OK. That stretches me a fair bit. I’m not just a follower, just a “believer”, just a pew-warmer, just “little ol’ me.” I’m sent to Earth with the same assignment, with the same backing, with the same power that Jesus was sent with.
“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Whoa.
Now for the second half:
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God….” [John 13:3]
How was Jesus sent from the Father? With all things under his power, knowing he had come from God, knowing he was returning to God.
“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” What does this say about how you’re sent?
And of course, the very next thing Jesus did was to wash the boys’ feet. Isn’t that how we’re sent?
We're sent to wash feet in the power of, and as a representative of, the King of Kings. He's washing feet through you and me.