Jesus went back to the temple.
He had unfinished business.
Let’s call this situation at the temple exactly what it was. It was contempt. The money-changers and the dove sellers profaned the temple. They had forgotten where they were.
They had grown so familiar with the temple it had become a common place. Just an ordinary place to do business. In the midst of clinking coins and bird feathers they had forgotten to be in awe, forgotten healthy fear and forgotten reverence.
The temple wasn’t a business to Jesus. It was his Father’s house. And he was returning to remind them.
But first watch what Jesus did.
He stops and makes a whip. He stands at the gate and slowly and methodically begins to braid cords together. He takes his time. There’s no hurry. There’s no exasperation.
Judas is staring. Peter is pacing impatiently. James and John are wondering what the whip is for (Perhaps they even wondered if they were going to get to use it. Remember earlier they had asked if fire could be called down on people. They don’t have the nicknames Sons of Thunder for nothing.)
And Jesus keeps braiding. Right over middle. Left over middle. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.* Love. Justice. Grace.
When he finishes he stands. And he entered the gates with Thanksgiving.
Thank you, Father, that this is your house.
And he entered the courts with praise.
Praise you, Father, for you are holy and good.
And then the whip cracked.
Even the disciples jumped. Startled not just by the sound, but by the transformation in Jesus. There’s a light in his face and a shofar sound in his voice.
Tables turn. Cages open. Birds fly. Money rolls. Jaws drop.
And Jesus stood sentinel refusing to allow anyone carrying merchandise to walk through the courts.
Oh, I almost missed it. I almost missed the next detail.
And as he taught them…
As he taught them.
Jesus cleared the temple with a whip. Turned everything upside down and right side out.
Then he went back to the real purpose of the temple. He spent the rest of the day teaching and healing. Glory returned.And the house of God was once again a house of prayer.
We are the temple now. Yes, you read that correctly.
And we need to make a walk-through. We need to ask if familiarity is breeding contempt here in us? We may need to get angry with what we see.
We need to stop and make a whip of cords. Justice over love. Love over grace. Grace over Justice. All woven together to form one whip. And we need to be praying while we braid. Asking for discernment, for wisdom and for clarity.
When the whip is finished we need to go through and drive out all that is distracting and hindering us from the purpose of the temple—to be a house of prayer and to glorify God.
I need to go and make a whip.