The well-known text describing Jesus’ frustration and anger over merchants and robbers in the Temple at the Passover Feast in Jerusalem is a strong story:
“In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the moneychangers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (John 2:14-16 NLT) (Other gospels say “a robbers den” or “a house of merchandise and trading.” Another gospel says: “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves.” (Matthew 21:12)
Was this like a bar fight in a Western Movie? I don’t know but it seems Jesus was forceful and serious. I also know that this event has been used (misused?) in many conversations to promote and justify some kind of violence or forceful behavior if it suits our purpose as Christians.
I have wondered if this scene in the Temple is not a prophetic picture of the change of covenants. We are now the Temple of the Lord, not some brick and mortar building. Maybe it’s a message of how much the Lord wants these things driven out of us. Even if he has to turn over our tables to get it done… he will flip our table if necessary and maybe snap our tails to get our attention. It is to promote a pure Temple without compromise, merchandising and to prove how much he loves us and wants our true worship. He did not send us out to kick over tables but to make disciples.
“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations.” Jesus