Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’
John 2. 13 - 22
In this painting by Giotto which is in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy, Jesus holds his arm up with a clenched fist ready to strike a money changer. The Torah commanded the Jews to visit the temple three times a year and make animal sacrifices, so that is not the issue here. It was also customary for money changers to be outside the temple to change foreign currency so people could make their half-shekel tribute, so that is not the issue either.
Some refer to Jesus's behavior here as a "temple tantrum," but that doesn't really seem to be the case. Others say he was cleansing the temple, since the presence of animals, though in the outer court, would have made the area unclean, and moneychangers were thought to be inherently dishonest. But all of this was essential for the temple's main function of sacrifice.
So why was do we think he was so angry? and why does this scene bring to mind for most people the one time Jesus lost his temper? How often have you heard people say, "I was so mad I felt like Jesus in the temple!" ?
A week after this event, Jesus was dead. Was this a prophetic demonstration of what was to come? Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. John 2. 19
In a sermon about this passage given in 2018, Pope Francis said "this was a typical action of prophets who, in the name of God, often denounced abuses and excesses." and he goes on to say that Jesus calls us to live our lives seeking not our own advantage and interests, but for the glory of God who is love.
And so...how does this apply to me and my life?
Lots of questions today...so what else is new?
I dare say this depiction from Jesus Christ Superstar did not help us with our misinterpretation!