THE JESUS I DIDN’T KNOW: THE MAD MAN IN THE TEMPLE

How well do you know Jesus? We all like to think we know Jesus pretty well. I’ve had close to fifty years of wonderful, sweet communion with Jesus. I’ve devoted over forty years of my life to studying and teaching His Word. I’m talking about going back to the original languages and learning as much as I can about Jewish culture, institutions, and beliefs. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Know-It-All. And you can ask my kids: I’m not inerrant or infallible. But still, knowing what I know, I’d like to think I know Jesus pretty good. To my pleasant surprise, however, I don’t know Jesus as good as I think I do. To this day, He still shows me more about Himself. Here, let me give you some snippets of the Jesus I never knew.

THE MAD MAN IN THE TEMPLE

Placing myself in the apostle John’s sandals, I’d recently met the Lord. For a long time now, my master, John the Baptizer, had been telling all of us disciples that the Messiah was coming very soon. In fact, on good authority—actually, from the Baptizer’s mom—the Messiah was already born! He’s alive and living somewhere in Israel right this very moment! Imagine how excited we were to hear that the long-prophesied Messiah was about ready to step onto the stage of world history. Life is never going to be same again!

Well, Andrew and I were standing by the river bank one day when our master directed our attention to a Man walking along. Behold the Lamb of God!, he said (John 1:35-36). Well, you bet our curiosity had been aroused. So Andrew and I started tagging along behind this Stranger and, wouldn’t you know it, the Guy turned around, looked at us, and asked, What are you looking for? Caught off guard and dumbfounded, we asked, rather sheepishly, where He was staying. “Come and see,” He said. And with that summary invitation, He took us to His hangout and, for the next several hours, we pumped Him full of questions. We wanted to know all about Him. Well, to make a long story short, by the time the Guy was done talking, we were absolutely convinced that this Jesus really was the Messiah. Just like master John had said.

We were so excited about Jesus that, for a moment, we acted like it was Black Friday. We dashed off in search of our brothers to let them know that we’d found the Messiah. Next day, Jesus invited us to go with Him to Galilee. You didn’t have to ask us twice. Along the way, we picked up Peter, James, Philip, and Nathanael.  I’ll never forget that trip. We were like silly women gossiping at the well: we gabbed and gabbed all the way to Galilee.

We went to a little town called Cana. There was a wedding there and, being invited, we jumped at the chance for free food. There was so much people there that, wouldn’t you know it, they ran out of wine. Jesus’ mama came and got Him and, of course, us disciples tagged along. Jesus told the servants to fill up the water jars with water. I mean to tell you, I kid you not, when the servants poured out the water that they’d put into the water jars, it was pure wine! It was the best tasting stuff ever! It was a miracle! The Guy we were following was, on top of being the Messiah, a Miracle Worker too! We were so excited, we couldn’t hardly sleep that night.

Well, Passover was coming up. So all of us made our way back down to Jerusalem. It was wall-to-wall people, just like usual. But we managed to all stay together. Jesus made a bee line to the Temple. Then He did something inexplicable. He just stood there to Himself and started making Himself a whip. What in the world for?, you ask. Believe me, that’s what we all wanted to know. It took some time. Then when He was all done, we stood there aghast as the Guy started tearing the place up. It’s like He just went berserk. He upended the vendors’ tables. Coins went everywhere and people started lunging to get ahold of some free money. Bird cages were knocked over. Birds went flying everywhere. Jesus used the whip and drove the oxen and sheep out of the Temple. We’re not talking about a dozen animals here. During Passover there were over 250,000 animals slaughtered and sacrificed. So we’re talking about an insane number of livestock penned up and tied right here in the Temple. Jesus let them go. Then He told all the animal merchants to scram. Of course, they beat it out of there. They ran off to get their animals. I mean to tell you it was sheer pandemonium! Absolutely insane! Everyone was shocked! And speechless! We’d never seen anything like it!

Between all the people shouting and scurrying, and all the animals stampeding out of there, I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. We’d been following the Messiah and Miracle Worker for the last few days. We were all pumped up because we were following the Messiah. We were the first ones to follow Him! Our names were going down in the record books. For the rest of time and history, we’d be known as Jesus’ first followers. Do you know how incredibly good that makes me feel? Now, here He was, in the House of God, violent and angry, making a huge scene. I thought He’d gone mad! He definitely wasn’t the Man I thought He was. He seemed like a perfectly good Fellow at first. Easy to talk to and get along. Definitely nice. Peace loving. And gentle. You’ve never met a kinder, gentler Soul. I expected Him to be reverent in the House of God. You’re supposed to be reverent in God’s House! Man, when I saw Him tearing up the place, my eyes and mouth popped wide open. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!

After it was all done and Jesus settled back down, we realized what had just happened. The zeal of God’s House had eaten Him up. Jesus loved God’s House and wanted to keep it holy: He couldn’t just stand there and watch His Father’s House be turned into a marketplace. So He cleaned House.

In hindsight, I understand now why He did it. But for a few moments there, I was really scared. I thought I was following a mad man. A psycho. Definitely bipolar, if not schizo. Turned out I was wrong. I just seen a side of Jesus that I never seen before. This was the Jesus I didn’t know. But now I know.

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