The Passover of the Jews was at hand and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons and the money changers sitting there.
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. 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 2:13-17
Is the Gospel found in this passage? Yes, yes it is found—but not in the practice of making a whip…
I am probably not alone in using this passage, spoken or not, as a justification for what I thought was “righteous anger and/or fury” about church stuff. Scratch that: I KNOW I am not alone; I have been around various folks I know bitten with the same bug over the years.
Here is what I have found over my years: Zeal is not the same as Anger. When Zeal is expressed as Anger somehow a line has been crossed where I should retreat from. Does that mean I change “whip” to “wimp?” Not at all.
I think the key to this passage is not the Sellers, it isn’t the Whip, it isn’t the violence of overturning tables and such—it is the House.
It is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me” or in other words zeal for the Church, the Body, the Elect, the Bride. All of these are biblical synonyms of each other. For sure zeal towards a physical house is wasted zeal. Here’s why:
It is the Cross where Jesus’ zeal for his Father’s house is fully expressed; not in anger or in self-righteousness (where I would be) but in zealous, fierce, submission to the plan of the Gospel. “I am so zealous for the Bride that I willingly become the final Sacrifice to atone for Sin—forever.” Jesus took the full Fury of God’s Wrath meant for me—I don’t think about that enough. I should–even though if I think only a little bit I can start to feel that crushing realization that the Innocent died for the Guilty…and how much I don’t deserve His Love for me.
Outward stuff is so temporary; it doesn’t have an Eternal footprint. The Church has an eternal footprint—not the stuff I see and do but the stuff I yearn to become: The Image of the Son; A Royal Priesthood; the Body; the Bride of Christ.
I want the conviction of ‘zeal for His house’ to run through my veins, to occupy my mind. Goodness, I wish it were as easy as that. What it takes is a ‘nose to the grindstone’ approach to pursuing the Most High God all my days…
O Holy Spirit, hear my prayer!! Change my heart, O God. Expose waywardness in me and help me to effectively repent. AMEN.