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The Face of Grace

Pencil sketch by JC Chambers

Part ten in a study of God's grace from the book of John.

Jesus got angry. At times His actions appear insensitive.

How could Jesus act in ways that appear to be unloving?

“After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days. When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!’ His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’” John 2:12-17

Early in His ministry, Jesus traveled north to Capernaum “with his mother and brothers and his disciples,” and returned with them to Jerusalem in time for the Passover. When He entered the temple confines, Jesus “made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle.”

After dealing with the sacrificial animals being sold and the merchants selling them, Jesus turned His attention to the money changers. These men converted unacceptable Roman denarii into acceptable Jewish shekels so that Jews could pay the temple tax. Jesus “scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables," punctuating this outburst by declaring, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”

Why did Jesus become angry?

The temple was composed of courtyards within courtyards, each being more restrictive. The outermost courtyard, the “Court of the Gentiles,” was the only space open to non-Jews. The problem was that Jewish worshipers were encroaching on space dedicated to Gentile worshipers. Merchants servicing Jews had been given space within this courtyard so that Jews entering inner courtyards wouldn’t have to carry sacrifices as far.

Sacred discrimination angered Jesus. He reacted to the not so subtle message this arrangement sent to Gentile, “You don’t matter to God as much as we do!” Jesus’ actions sent a loud message to both Jews and Gentiles . . . God makes room for everyone in His kingdom regardless of race, class or gender.

Discrimination was sanctioned by ancient Judaism. When Jesus Christ came to the earth, He dealt a deathblow to the practice of sacred racism.

• Sacred racial discrimination was in place prior to Christ’s arrival: “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (that done in the body by the hands of men) — remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:11-12

• Christ put an end to sacred discrimination: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:13

• Jesus removed sacred discrimination by repealing the Old Testament law: “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.” Ephesians 2:14-15

Jesus Christ eliminated the practice of sacred discrimination by revoking the Mosaic Law it was based upon. On this side of the cross, race, class or gender differences are spiritually insignificant. Faith in Christ is all that matters. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

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