“In the temple courts he found people 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 courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.”
Bear with me while I quote some garbage.
“Jesus flipped the tables to show you He’s not putting up with your crap! Don’t repent? That’s what you’ll get!”
“Jesus had righteous anger over you trying to make money! That’s why He turned the tables!”
“You can’t sell merchandise and coffee in your church! How dare you! Christ would come in here and flip all of this over!”
“Jesus turned the tables to prove He was no pushover! So I’m going to do the same and whoop, your, butt!”
My stomach turns a little, just typing that dung. But I’ve heard it all in regard to Jesus getting angry, making a whip, flipping tables, and driving people out of the temple courts. For the immature individual–one who doesn’t understand the New Covenant, pushes Law, and expresses no self-control–table-flipping Jesus is their go-to passage when they want an excuse to act like a jerk. They’ll pull this section of the Bible up and out of their mental rolodex, “What would Jesus do?! He’d knock you on the head, that’s what!”
No, friend. He wouldn’t. On this side of the Cross, He’s wooing unbelievers not trying to cause them pain–and He never did try to cause them pain. He doesn’t bring tragedy onto a person and then swoop around to the backside of that tragedy to comfort them. What a monster He would be. This world brings enough trouble on its own. He came to save us from it, not heap on more heartache.
So what is the proper context behind the actions of Jesus Christ that day? Did He go berserk because they were gambling, price gouging, or conducting business on holy ground? Here’s the truth:
He was standing up for you and me, dear Gentile.
This one section of the temple was designated for non-Jews. We weren’t allowed to go anywhere else except this small area to pray. The Gentiles who came to this part of the temple courts believed in Yahweh–the God of the Jews–but knew they weren’t included in their Covenant.
They didn’t follow Moses out of Egypt, they didn’t walk through the Red Sea floor, nor did they promise God they would do everything written in the book of the Law (see Exodus 19:8, 24:3). But they still believed in God. They had faith. Faith is what has always justified a person, not the Law, but that subject is for another day (see Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38).
Jesus knew this one small part of the temple gave them hope. Jesus knew that many Gentiles who were saved by faith came there to pray. It was a place of prayer for them; a geographic location of comfort, of longing for something better than being rejected because of their race. The promise God made to Abraham before Israel was even formed, this area of the temple was specifically designed for that promise (see Genesis 22:15-18).
Jesus saw what the Jews had done by desecrating this zone of the promise for the Gentiles to be saved! They cared nothing about the Abrahamic promise and He was hot! The promise God made to Abraham, that he would be the father of many nations through Abraham’s seed (Jesus)–not just the nation of Israel–was being snuffed out by money-hungry legalists! (See Galatians 3:29).
Just look at what Jesus said to these fools who were cashing in on the Law of Moses by setting up shop in the Gentiles’ section of the temple:
And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations‘? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mark 11:17)
Christ was quoting two of their own prophets from their own scriptures–Isaiah and Jeremiah! I could picture Him yelling at them:
“ALL NATIONS! AAAAAAAAAAAALL NATIOOOOOOOONS! NOT JUST YOURS!”
He was mad. Very mad. His own people, their own sacred writings which foretold about God including the Gentiles too, they were stomping on that. They would rather make money off the need for animals than realize Jesus would remove that need forever in Himself which would bring in everyone (see Hebrews 10:4,10-14, John 1:29, 19:30, Galatians 3:28).
So today, my friends, know this: Jesus got angry and flipped tables because He was passionate about including all nations in with His family, not just the Jews who believed. Not one time in the Bible does Jesus get mad at a Gentile who reached out to Him. He only got mad at the legalists who refused to include us. They wanted religion but Jesus wanted relationship. Therefore Christ got livid when this promise was ignored. He’s still passionate about this very promise, today. Through you and I, dear Christian, He’s still reaching out to everyone who has not yet believed. Keep being yourself. You are fulfilling the original promise of God, to include the entire world in His family, by grace through faith.
A prayer for you: Dad, thank you for giving me the right to call you Dad. I had an enraged person email me the other day, irate about the fact that I call you Dad. But that’s what you are. You’re my Dad. You’re my Father. You’re Abba. I love you so much, and I’m so happy you gave me the right to be your son, even as a Gentile. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of these dear people have the wrong idea about you. Because of others who’ve misrepresented you, they’ve believed the lie that you’re furious, yet you’re not. All your fury was placed on Christ at the Cross. Instead, you’re enthusiastic about including all nations, all people groups, and every ethnicity in heaven. Keep using our hands, feet, and mouths to accomplish this amazing feat. We’re honored, Dad. Amen.
This devotional is from my upcoming book, The Christian Identity, Volume 3. Check out my other bestselling books here!