by Steve Davis
He is enraged! Nostrils flared and frowning brow, the cords on his neck stand out. His muscles are taut and his stance rigid. Clenched tightly in his muscular tawny hand is a homemade whip of small cords. This solitary man shouts at the shocked crowd thronging the Court of the Gentiles on the south side of the temple mount. “Get these things out of my sight! Do not make my Father’s house a market place!” “You have made this place the haunt of thieves!”
What is going on here? This is an incredible scene! One man has faced down a mob. How can they let him get away with this? He is not much to look at. Of all the people among this teeming mass of humanity, one would not have picked him out of the crowd. But their innermost beings somehow recognize a presence far beyond what their finite minds can comprehend. Here is a magnificent display of authority and passion. John recorded this tremendous scene in his gospel chapter two and concluded with this statement: “And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”This scene from Christ’s ministry, called the cleansing of the temple, conjures up a number of questions. One question stands foremost among others. What motivated Christ to confront the status quo and contradict it in such a powerful way?
Since, as the Talmud claims, Babba Ben Buta had introduced 3,000 sheep into the temple for sale as sacrifices, temple commerce had become an accepted practice up until Christ’s time. Jesus is making a scene, rocking the establishment’s boat, stirring up trouble among the religious right of His day, challenging their apathy towards what they allowed to happen in the temple. I believe the motivation for His actions could be summed up with a word: zeal—or a more modern term—passion! Christ’s motivation leads to another question. What generates consuming passion? What provoked Christ to such a powerful display of righteous fury? Do you think it was His intense, fervent love for God and His will that drove Him to overturn the tables and chase away the moneychangers? What are we passionate about?
Why are we passionate about so many other things but apathetic when it comes to God?
People are passionate about a lot of things today. They are passionate about sports, hunting, movie stars, electronics, media, blogs, politics, religions, money, material possessions, family, and the American dream. But are they passionate about God? Why are we passionate about so many other things but apathetic when it comes to God? What this world needs more than anything else is people who are literally consumed with loving God! Do we possess a passionate love for God that rivals Christ’s? Do we love Him enough to buck the tide of a media-saturated society consumed with worldliness, materialism, and spiritual relativism? Is passion for God and His will literally consuming our beings or have we become a part of the spiritual apathy around us. The people of Christ’s day were content to allow the place of worship to become a place of merchandise. Are we content to allow the same thing to happen in our temple? Do we have enough courage to allow Christ to throw the stuff out that does not belong in the temple, the place in our hearts where the fire of consuming love for God should reign supreme?