August 05, 2020

Making Wrongs Right

John 2:13-25

So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.

—  John 2:15

In this story about Jesus clearing the temple courts, we have a picture in which Jesus is upset and seems to be angry. Does this fit with the way you normally think of him?

Vendors are defiling the temple area during the Passover festival, and that is a problem for a couple of reasons. For one thing, they are selling animals in a space where people are supposed to be able to pray.

Another concern is price gouging. Animal sacrifices are required for the festival, and it can be difficult for travelers to bring animals a long distance. So the merchants are maximizing profits by charging the travelers high prices for their animals.

All of this makes Jesus rightly upset. But this is not without purpose, and it does not mean he is out of control. Instead, Jesus is purifying a holy space and protecting people from exploitation. He is taking on something wrong and setting it right.

As we seek to be followers of Jesus, we are called to put God first in our lives and to seek our neighbors’ well-being (see Matthew 22:37-40). But we continue to struggle against sin. We still need to be corrected and even rebuked at times. In those moments Jesus may need to get our attention, or even speak a hard word to us, to shake us out of focusing on ourselves. He’s making us more like him.

Lord, show me where I have sinned, and give me the courage to honor you and do what’s right. Amen.

About the author — A.J. Gretz

Anthony Joseph (A.J.) Gretz is a pastor in Grandville, Michigan. He has also served churches in Ohio and in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He and his wife, Anna, have three children.

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