The Real Reason for Jesus Cleansing the Temple image

The Real Reason for Jesus Cleansing the Temple

While Andrew has been providing reasons for the differing positions in the gospels of when Jesus cleansed the temple, one of my church members has stumbled on a rather different take on the story as a whole. While visiting another church she picked up a transcript of a talk given to a women’s meeting there. I was intrigued to read it:

In Mark 11:12-21 we find that Jesus was hungry. Yes, the Son of God, Saviour of the World, Miracle-making Jesus was hungry. I think this proves that our Lord Jesus was not only God but also human. This scripture says that Jesus and disciples were on their way to Jerusalem. Jesus was hungry and it seems he was hoping for a meal from a fig tree that He could see in the distance. On reaching the tree Jesus found that it had no fruit on it. What did He do? Did He think “Oh well. Never mind.” and walk away and look for something else to eat? No, He cursed the fig tree. What do you think this might tell us about Jesus, at that moment? Well Jesus obviously craved something sweet. Figs are very sweet. I also think he felt irritable due to the hunger and this is why He reacted the way He did and cursed the fig tree. He actually said to the tree, “May not one ever eat from you again.” When Jesus and His disciples saw the Fig Tree the next morning it had completely withered. Poor tree! It wasn’t even the season for figs, we read in verse 13. What good did it do to anyone to curse the tree? Then, by the time they reached Jerusalem Jesus must have been starving, had very low blood sugar and a very short fuse. He became angry at the money changers in the temple area. The money-changing was nothing new. It went on all the time because people were coming from all over the place with different currency but could only purchase sacrifices with the local currency. It was an everyday event. The moneychangers were well known for cheating people through their dishonest exchange rates. On this particular occasion, Jesus threw a wobbly as they say. I believe it was because He hadn’t eaten and His human side made him react like this. This was definitely not like Him. Most of the time we see a loving, forgiving, compassionate Jesus all through the gospels. There are other occasions when Jesus showed His human side but nothing quite like this particular day in His life. It doesn’t say in scripture that Jesus eventually had a meal but the next morning He was back to His usual self and in verse 25 we read that He was telling His disciples about forgiveness. I wonder if He prayed to His Father for forgiveness for His behaviour the day before, and that was why He was thinking about the subject.

My message today is that Jesus is half God and half human and was not afraid to show his human side. Jesus never did anything wrong, never told a lie and was never deceitful despite being half human. How much more should we, even though we are fully human, strive to show Jesus-like qualities of love, forgiveness and compassion to those we meet and deal with in our everyday life. So the next time you get grumpy, eat some cashew nuts and pray that the Lord will forgive you and fill your heart with love to help you say sorry for being grumpy, and I am speaking to myself here as well as to you.

Readers of Think will not need me to spell out the many non sequiturs, historical fallacies, biblical illiteracy and outright heresies laid out in this talk. It is almost beyond parody. But pastorally it is troubling. Clearly the author is a ‘believer’. She takes at face value that Jesus is God and saviour of the world. She uses a very respectful capitalised ‘H’ in writing about Him. Yet her Christology is woollier than that of a typical Jehovah’s Witness – and she was allowed not only to give such a talk in a Baptist church but leave transcripts of it for others to benefit from. Where was the doctrinally sound leadership in the church to help correct her? Had no one there ever read the Creed?

What troubles me most about this though is the suspicion that in many churches many sincere believers would not be able to spot the non sequiturs, historical fallacies, biblical illiteracy and outright heresies in this talk. That, in fact, rather than being an anomaly it is a fair reflection of many Christians’ understanding of Jesus. It is easy to laugh at the silliness of this talk but it underlines the necessity of the consistent teaching of sound doctrine. Theology really does matter: we neglect it at our peril.


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