In a day when people tippy toe around the truth as though it was social cyanide, “what would Jesus do” is radical and unacceptable. But that should surprise no one – Jesus was unacceptable and unaccepted. Still, He continues to be the standard for us and our age.
Jesus’ focus was on the Temple in this passage since that was His House and Father God planned the Temple for prayer not commerce.
John 2:12-17 After this incident, Jesus, accompanied by his mother, his brothers and his disciples, went down to Capernaum and stayed there a few days. The Jewish Passover was approaching and Jesus made the journey up to Jerusalem. In the Temple he discovered cattle and sheep dealers and pigeon-sellers, as well as money-changers sitting at their tables. So he made a rough whip out of rope and drove the whole lot of them, sheep and cattle as well, out of the Temple. He sent the coins of the money-changers flying and turned their tables upside down. Then he said to the pigeon-dealers, “Take those things out of here. Don’t you dare turn my Father’s house into a market!”
If He did this today he would be jailed at the very least for disturbing the peace if not assault and damage to property. Jesus never damaged people; He turned over the tables not the people managing them. Jesus saves humans but He does not necessarily save systems, or governments.
He only acted on principle; in this case the love of money as the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10) was the source of the problem. Modern rioters murder for their cause and feel justified. But the use of violence to promote a righteous claim never works; it only promotes more violence. Think of Black Lives Matter here.
Jesus takes on a host of leaders who contaminate the word of God with lies and deception. Matthew 23:16-30
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing. But if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.’ 17
Swearing was and still is a form of verification of one’s word. In court we swear on the Bible; some Christian denominations refuse to swear on anything because the Bible specifically opposes that. Your word should be sufficient. Of course for those who want to lie, nothing makes any difference anyway.
But swearing on anything makes no sense. In no way does it confirm or deny the what was stated. Furthermore the Lords of Swearing have made yet another rule for living. You can always tell when a government is failing by how many worthless and futile rules it has.
You blind fools! Which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing. But if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is obligated.’ 19 You blind fools! Which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?20 Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. 21 But he who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.
Now Jesus goes after picky, picky rules. Just picture someone weighing out carefully the basil in your back yard garden to be sure that the church gets 10% of it. You can appreciate the love of detail but what Jesus wants is a heart towards God that would give 50% if we had it – or even 90%. It is not the percentage that indicates our obedience and devotion to Christ but out attitude. Anything else is called majoring in minors.
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You tithe mint and dill and cumin, but have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done without leaving the others undone. 24 You blind guides who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and greed. 26 You blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may also be clean.
The third group that Jesus curses (and ‘Woe To’ does indicate a curse) are the hypocrites. Hypocrite in Greek means literally “play actor.”
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
This bunch is probably the one we can understand the best – the persons who promote their public image as a substitute for a beautiful inside.
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You build the tombs of the prophets, and adorn the memorials of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have partaken with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.
And Jesus identifies them as those who stood toe-to-toe against God as their forebears did.
33 “You serpents! You generation of vipers! How can you escape the judgment of hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets, and wise men, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute them from city to city, 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I say to you, all these things will come on this generation.
Generation comes from the word “genes.” There is a genetic strain in man that opposes God and those who refuse to change will see that judgment on themselves and their families. The Bible states that those who follow the faith will get better day by day. And that is true.
But there is another truth, that evil men get worse and worse. 2 Timothy 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. All our political promises to the contrary can’t change the fact that the world is plunging towards judgment. It may be 100 years away but it is still prophesied and God has confirmed it in many ways. Climate change will not destroy the planet -God Himself will do it. After all, it’s His planet.
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you, how often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not! 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you shall not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
The final curse is against a city. But this could be your city as well, any city or nation that stands in opposition to God deliberately and with full knowledge of what it was doing. There is almost no preaching on this topic today but political jurisdictions do receive punishment or honor depending on the accomplishments of the government.
The study of history confirms this. For example socialism has been tried many times, currently 20 such nations, and in all cases it has failed or is failing. That also includes communism which is socialism on steroids. Their citizens are trying to get out – that’s how you know the government is not working. Wealthy Chinese are sending their wives to California to have “anchor babies” so their children can become Americans. There are entire apartment buildings full of them. Anchor babies are a symptom of political and social failure.
India is pulling ahead; Russia needs to be included as a failed communist state, i.e. Soviet Union. There are many other states living in constant turmoil such as Sudan and some of Kenya mostly because of Islamic terrorism. In fact, the world today has far more war than peace.
Many political people profess to believe in world peace. But this is not possible. Isaiah 57:21 There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked. Peace will only occur when the Prince of Peace returns.
You will notice below that where there is a strong Christian presence or tradition that nation is not on the list. Jesus said you’ll know them by their fruit, and that applies to nations as well as people.
|North Korea||1948||Workers’ Party of Korea|
|China||1949||Communist Party of China|
|Vietnam||1976||Communist Party of Vietnam|
|Cuba||1961||Communist Party of Cuba|
|Laos||1975||Lao People’s Revolutionary Party|
|Bangladesh||1971||Unitary parliamentary democracy||Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League||Abdul Hamid|
|Bolivia||2006||presidential republic||Movement for Socialism||Evo Morales|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||2001||Dictatorship||People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy||Joseph Kabila|
|Ecuador||2007||Presidential republic||PAIS Alliance||Rafael Correa|
|Guyana||1980||Unitary Semi-presidential republic||People’s Progressive Party||Donald Ramotar|
|India||1947||Federal parliamentary constitutional republic||Indian National Congress||Pranab Mukherjee|
|Nicaragua||2007||presidential republic||Sandinista National Liberation Front||Daniel Ortega|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||2001||Parliamentary monarchy||Unity Labour Party||Ralph Gonsalves|
|Syria||1963||Ba’athist dictatorship||Ba’ath Party||Bashar al-Assad|
|Tanzania||1964||Federal presidential constitutional republic||Chama Cha Mapinduzi||Jakaya Kikwete|
|Venezuela||1998||presidential republic||United Socialist Party of Venezuela||Nicolás Maduro|
|Zambia||2011||presidential dictatorship||Patriotic Front||Guy Scott|