We preachers often speak about the hands that bore the nails on the cross and rightly so. But what about the day when those same hands threaded a whip of cords and cleared the temple? If you’re unfamiliar with the narrative I am referring to you can read about it in a couple of places: Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-46, and John 2:13-17. So let me sketch an overview of the narrative as John records it…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Jerusalem. No not Christmas, but Passover. The streets are electric as millions scurry towards the temple. And amongst the bustling crowds walks the One who literally fulfills the Passover festival. Of course at this point in John’s narrative that is still a mystery. So back to the narrative sketch… The crowds are funneling to one area towards the center of the city. It is the center of Jewish religious, political, and social life and that is of course the temple. Theologically this is the location where the presence of The Living God dwells in a powerful way. There are numerous places in Scripture that record the presence of God being so strong in the temple (although those texts are referring to the original temple built by Solomon that was destroyed by the Babylonians when they exiled Judah from the land of Canaan in 586 B.C.) that the Levitical priests were unable to stand. All in all, this was the place where the world would come to encounter and worship the One true Living God, the Creator for whom all things exist. This was the location where the glory of God flowed out into His creation. It was an Eden-like space where a person could come to know God and to even be made right with God! It was in a literal sense the The LORD’s house. Yet when Jesus shows up on His own doorstep He encounters something very different than was expected…

In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. (John 2:14)

The next few verses record quite the scene…

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. (John 2:15)

It may be hard for you to imagine. Jesus, the meek and mild is here roaring like the lion of Judah. The hand that would later bear the nails is now cracking a whip! He’s flipping the tables and pouring out the coins of the money -changers. Can you imagine what Peter’s face must have looked like when Jesus flipped that first table? Keep in mind that there is most likely a LARGE crowd present. No doubt, this would have caused quite the commotion. But what’s the big deal? After all this parking lot market would have been convenient for a family who had travelled hundreds of miles and were in need of a sheep or pigeon to participate in the Passover festivities.

It may have been convenient but it was also a lot of other things. Take for example that this market had proven to be an effective means of business. Families from out of town arrive and your shop is next door to the sheep ‘inspector’ whose approval will either disqualify or qualify your sheep for the sacrifices, you charge a conversion fee for their money, etc… you can smell the scam from a mile away. So it wasn’t merely convenience, but convenience mixed with extortion, bribery, and scamming. Hardly the place where a person can come to learn about or have an experience with God! That so-called convenience actually turned out to be a means of preventing people from experiencing and genuinely worshipping The Lord. The temple had been turned, by man, into something it was never intended or designed to be. And that is what I believe ignites the anger of Jesus.

 And he told those who sold the 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 me. (John 2:16-17)

There are certainly many applications that can be drawn from this narrative. However, I perhaps only have your attention long enough to draw one. So if I could only draw one application from this narrative right now then it would be this: Preventing people from giving genuine worship to The Lord is a big deal to Jesus. Now I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that you are not selling sheep, oxen, or pigeons out in your church parking lot at the crack of dawn before the Sunday service. I’m even going to assume that you’re not extorting or scamming people in the church foyer before they enter the auditorium for corporate worship. But are there traditions, methods, or conveniences that you seek to use that in the end actually prevent people from giving genuine worship to The Lord? Maybe there are somethings in your own life preventing you from giving genuine worship to The Lord? Perhaps the question should be asked like this: if Jesus showed up on the front doorsteps of your church this Sunday would He thread a whip of cords and drive you out? May we be always sincere and truthful in our worship and seeking to experience The Lion of Judah.

2 thoughts on “The day when Jesus used a whip to clear the church house.

  1. Good word….Thanks

    From: Zac Gardner Reply-To: Zac Gardner Date: Monday, September 30, 2019 at 10:53 PM To: Subject: [New post] The day when Jesus used a whip of cords to clear the church house.

    zacharyg posted: “We preachers often speak about the hands that bore the nails on the cross and rightly so. But what about the day when those same hands threaded a whip of cords and cleared the temple? If you’re unfamiliar with the narrative I am referring to you can read “


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