And making a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen.... (John 2:15a)
Read John 2:13-22
Jesus with a whip -- really? And not just one borrowed in the heat of anger -- no, He deliberately found some cords, braided them together, and made this whip. And then used it. But on whom?
Logic would suggest the animals. If you have oxen and sheep cluttering up the place, the quickest way to clear it would be to use your whip on the animals, right? But not Jesus. In all four Gospels, it clearly says "he drove them all out of the temple." Who is "them"? Why, it's "those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers," according to John; it's "those who sold and those who bought in the temple," according to the other three Gospels. In other words, it's people: the people who did the wrong in the first place.
The animals seem to have gotten off scot-free. They shouldn't have been there; true, but Jesus didn't blame them for that. Nor did He tip over the bird cages, which might have hurt the pigeons inside. Instead, He ordered the sellers to carry them out safely. Jesus was concerned to set the temple right as quickly as possible, but He had a care to the innocents caught up in that mess.
Thank God for that, because it's so easy to get caught up in someone else's dreadful situation. Is God going to blame me because my marriage is ending due to my spouse's addiction? If my family abuses me, will Jesus hate me if I find it hard to honor my parents? Did I do enough when I found out my boss and my coworkers were breaking the law? Am I even really innocent at all? Maybe I deserve punishment.
To all of this worry and grief Jesus says, "I have come for you in the middle of this mess. I love you, and I have made you clean. Guilt and innocence are Mine to deal with, and I have laid down My life for you. You are now Mine, and no one will take you out of My hands."
THE PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for the mercy You have shown me, even when I felt terribly guilty. Amen.
When you were a child, did you ever get chased away from some place you were not supposed to be?
If you are willing, share a sticky situation where you got caught up in someone else's mess. You don't need to name names or give identifying information.
What is a guilt you are struggling with that you're not even sure is really yours at all? Speak or write a prayer asking Jesus to help you and remove it.
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