15Making 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.

Christ Driving the Money Changers Out Valentin de Boulogne (1618)

It sounds so violent, so unlike the vision of Jesus meek and mild we are often taught to imagine.

This incident is frequently cited as proof that Jesus at times got angry. I do not have any trouble with the idea of Jesus being angry. There are times when anger may be called for. There is no doubt anger would have been an appropriate emotion confronted by the desecration to which the sacred precinct of the Temple had been subjected.

But, anger is not mentioned in any of the Gospel accounts of Jesus “cleansing” the Temple.

Might it be possible to perform a strong forceful act without it necessarily being driven only by anger?

Jesus saw a real problem in the clutter of the temple. Worship had become obscured by a system of barter utilized to benefit the merchants in the temple and indirectly the priestly hierarchy whose pockets were filled with their portion of the profits from the arrangement. The purpose of coming to worship was no longer to surrender before the ineffable mystery and beauty of the Divine. The Temple had been reduced to a self-serving system in which a deal was made to win God’s favour and benefit those in positions of privilege.

Self-interest and avidity will never lead to the place where I am able to take decisive forceful action without the sticky residue of ego complicating my behaviour. Living in tune with the truth and light of Jesus sets me free to act with strength and truth and, when necessary, with force and power.

+++

What does it feel like to take a stand and act with strength but without attachment or personal agenda? What helps me to get to this place within myself where I am free to act without the confusion of unacknowledged agendas?