The story of Jesus cleansing the Temple in John 2:13-16 is often cited as the basis and guide for righteous anger. Jesus was offended that the Priests and Rabbis had insulted God’s House with the traffic of animals and unethical business with money. So, appropriately, Jesus displays righteous anger and overturns the tables and sends the vendors away.
If you take some time to reflect on the passage, you will notice in verse 15 that Jesus makes a whip. If I had to make a whip, it might take me weeks. How long did it take Jesus? 2 minutes? 5 minutes? 20 minutes?
This verse tells me that Jesus did not act hastily and in anger. He had “time to cool off” so to speak; though it is hard for me to imagine the need for God Incarnate to cool down. While Jesus is clearly passionate about the events, He is not out of control. He takes time to make a whip. He gathers the materials and assembles them carefully. He knows the mission and purpose of the next few minutes and He carefully acts to deliver the right message about God’s House.
God’s House has a plan and a purpose. At that time, it was the place of intercession and prayer. The people needed animals for sacrifice and coins for offerings and taxes. The sin was placing the business enterprise above the spiritual enterprise. The goal of assisting people in their pilgrimage to a proper, redeemed relationship with God had been replaced by the objectives of business. Profit was the motive rather than reconciliation.
John also mentions that it is near Passover. Perhaps this is just a calendar reference to let people know something about the date in the same way a news reporter would today. I think there was more however.
Women the world over are familiar with the discipline of Spring Cleaning. It is likely that this tradition has roots in the Jewish preparation for Passover. Each year, Jewish families would clean, scrub, and launder their houses to rid the home of yeast in preparation for Passover. They were meticulous; even fanatical. Only when every cupboard and closet, every drawer and counter had been swept and dusted (multiple times if needed) would Mom allow them to rest from the labor.
What a contrast. Every Jewish home scrubbed and spotless. But the Temple of God dirty and filled with livestock. God’s Temple has literally been turned into a barn. No wonder Jesus throws everybody out. The Temple needed cleaning both physically and spiritually.
Perhaps you would take time to ask Jesus for cleansing in the temple of your life today.