I’m not sure when or where this view of Jesus began, but he’s been painted as a tree hugging hippie, willing to stand on the streets with a sign that reads “PEACE LOVE HAPPINESS” for quite some time. Now I’m not trying to make it sound like Jesus isn’t mild mannered, because he is at times. But Jesus knows when he needs to be strong, bold, defiant and lovingly in your face. Jesus can be a pretty tough dude.
I harken back to the story of Jesus getting mad in the temple. There was a long walk up an impressive set of stairs to get to the Second Temple and I can imagine that as he was walking those stairs, he was hearing all of the commotion that was going on up there. In the Courtyard of the Gentiles, it was common for merchants to sell animals for sacrifice. People would have to travel long distances (upwards of several hundred miles sometimes) to make it to the temple to offer their sacrifices and it wasn’t always possible for them to bring livestock that distance. Besides the logistics of traveling hundreds of miles on foot with livestock, there was the risk that the animal would be injured and wouldn’t be able to be used for a sacrifice. So, travelers would purchase their sacrificial animals when they arrived in Jerusalem. They would also have to pay the annual half shekel for their Temple offering. Usually they would have the coins of their homeland and would need to trade them for the correct, Temple appropriate coins that didn’t have images of foreign kings or gods on them.
In business, you learn about supply and demand. The lower the supply and the higher the demand, the more you can charge for it. That certainly worked in the favor of the money changers and merchants at the Temple. Not only did they have a solid customer base, they also had customers who were in dire need of their services. These sacrifices were an extremely important part of the Jewish faith and they had to be made! These business men were making money hand over fist, likely ripping off all of their customers to make as much money as possible. And doing it on Holy ground no less!
I can almost picture Jesus walking up into the courtyard, like a cowboy walking into the saloon after a long journey, pushing through the double saloon doors, tumbleweeds rolling in the background, all the noise of the intoxicated patron’s conversations and arguments, someone tickling’ the keys in the corner….And he’s lookin’ to shake things up.
It’s not hard to imagine Jesus standing there, hands on his hips, head down, sighing in disbelief. He gets ANGRY. Jesus releases the livestock. It’s probably not just a couple of sheep and goats, there are likely dozens and dozens of them. The animals have been standing around all day with no bedding to lay in, probably not much for food or water and I bet they’re cranky. The animals probably came stampeding out of their pens, running everywhere and into everyone in their effort to escape.
Jesus isn’t just reacting impulsively. He takes the time to remove the bird cages from the tables (I’m sure he doesn’t want them to be harmed with what’s coming) and then he flips over the money changer’s tables. Coins are flying everywhere and rolling all over the floor like marbles that had been dumped out of their bag.
Think about this…animals running wild, coins rolling around everywhere, people yelling in confusion. Add to this people chasing after the money and the animals, and all of the faithful Jews who are there to to use the services of these merchants to be able to offer their sacrifices. It is absolute CHAOS! Not exactly a mild reaction if you ask me. It is purposeful and righteous (he did take the time to make sure the birds were safe).
I would say that this is more in line with what John Wayne would do, not Shaggy.
Of course, this isn’t the only incident of Jesus being bold. He often refers to the Pharisees and other “religious” people he encounters as hypocrites. 18 times in the gospels to be exact. Usually, he’s speaking with people who believe that they are better than others because of their strict devotion to their religious practices. But Jesus often lets them know that they are missing the point. It’s not just standing there where everyone can see and belting out a long and eloquent prayer. It’s about having a relationship with God. It’s not about giving a tithe. It’s about blessing others with what God has blessed you with. There’s more to faith than just checking things off of a list.
He routinely calls people out for not having faith. He stood defiant in front of the Sanhedrin by being mostly silent. He was questioned by Pontius Pilot and when asked if he was king of the Jews, merely replies with something along the lines of “If you say so.” Then Jesus says nothing when Pontius Pilot asks him about the accusations that the priests and elders were hurling at him. All this, knowing that his answers would have him executed in a painful crucifixion. He stood firm to the plan the God had for him, even when he knew that it would mean his death.
Jesus is bold, defiant, able to have righteous (non sinful) anger. Jesus is not afraid to speak the truth, no matter the cost to himself.
Jesus is not a hippie.