The Whipping Jesus

Everybody loves the Jesus of the wedding in Cana. What’s not to like, after all? A wedding, a party, family time, a joyous moment, saving people from embarrassment, producing something of high quality.

The story has all the elements of a warm fuzzy, the ancient equivalent of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

The very next story is a slap in the face, after the tingling feeling of the wedding. Read John 2:12-22.

Jesus fashions a whip out of some cords and drives people and animals out of the temple courts. No polite invitation to remove themselves. No attempt at reasoning. No please and thank you. No Mr. Nice Guy.

He overturns tables. He scatters coins across the stone pavement. He yells at the dove sellers to clear out.

He has likely seen this scene thrice annually since the age of 12. Now that he starts his ministry, he performs an act of judgment on Israel, a protest against impediments to worship that man called aids.

His act is moved by zeal, that white-hot passion for the things of God, his Father. A zeal that consumes and burns itself in the service of the Kingdom, for the house of the Lord. “Zeal for your house will devour me.”

But for a world gone soft on the hard-nosed realities of holiness, the whipping Jesus is politically incorrect, too brazen, too in-your-face, too mean.

The world wants to stay at the wedding.

So the Sermon on the Mount has been pressed into mealy-mouth mush.
The Way has become one of many possibilities.

The sovereign Son of God has become merely one of a number of good prophets.

The Savior for eternity has been transformed into the miracle worker for bank and body.

But Jesus inevitably enters with whip in hand, cleansing, purifying, expelling, expunging.

And either one stands with him or flees from him.

Perhaps as much as a cross, Christianity might adopt as a symbol a whip of cords.

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J. Randal Matheny

Servant of the Lord at GoSpeak
Randal and his wife have lived and worked in Brazil since 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren. Randal's a lefty, a chocolate lover, an author and a poet.

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5 thoughts on “The Whipping Jesus

  1. Thanks, Randal, for a needed perspective on our Lord. We too often focus only on those aspects of Jesus that please us, and refuse to accept the whip that will drive out our imperfections. A well-written article!

  2. Oh the wonder of perspective! Well done Brother Matheny. People seem indifferent to the harsh reality that our God is a consuming fire!

  3. This is biblical. We all want Jesus at the wedding, not the whipping. I’ll preach this. Thanks Randal for prodding my thinking.

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