Gentle Jesus?


I’ve read the passage below many times and never quite knew what to do with it. Jesus’ reaction seemed excessive, or even a bit irrational, until I dug deeper and gained some context. You see, innocent people were being exploited by those they trusted. Upon entering the Jerusalem temple during Passover, the sojourners were forced to pay a substantial tax with money exchanged for “temple currency” at an exorbitant rate. Then they were instructed to buy animals for sacrifice that could only be purchased at—you guessed it—the temple. Bottom line: The religious leaders were making worship cumbersome and costly, and they were getting rich in the process. Enter Jesus.

  • Has Jesus ever challenged your notion of who you think he is? What happened?


13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money- changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. What are some adjectives you would use to describe the scene?
  2. What is a whip of cords? How do you make one? What materials do you need? How much time would it take to make one?
  3. One man, one whip, hundreds of large animals and countless merchants who’d set up shop. Do you think something other than brute force was at work here? What? How would you explain it?
  4. In the middle of all this, who did Jesus claim to be in verse 16?
  5. What would you say you are zealous for in your house (family)?


The reactions of Jesus are always right, always cleansing, always freeing. The beauty in his righteous anger is that it’s never misdirected nor haphazard or impulsive. His holy wrath is unleashed on sin, because of how it destroys those he dearly loves (us), and because of Satan, who roams the earth, intent on doing harm. His anger isn’t like ours. His end goal is to draw us closer, not push us away; rarely, in our anger, are we seeking closeness. Jesus’ human emotions can be trusted because he is the splendidly perfect image of an invisible God.

  • As you study the Gospel of John, pray to see the humanity of Jesus with fresh eyes.
  • Thank Jesus for being compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love toward us (Ps. 103:8).