We don’t often think about wild Jesus. It isn’t all that comfortable to hear in the Sunday Gospel reading of a few weeks ago that Jesus got angry. And not just kind of upset but flipping tables and making a whip upset. That story of Jesus cleansing the temple of what defiled it is sometimes an overlooked passage of Scripture almost seeming out of character for the Lord. We tend to often hear about suffering Jesus and merciful Jesus and kind, gentle Jesus. We don’t often hear about wild, passionate Jesus. We can sometimes forget that it’s all the same Jesus. That same Jesus making the whip is the same Jesus who is complete mercy, complete love. It is only in His love that He wishes, no longs, to return to God what was supposed to be kept sacred. The zeal for God’s house consumes Him.
It wasn’t until last Sunday and the juxtaposition of the readings that I had ever seen how clear it all is. There are many things to learn from the story of the temple cleansing, of course, but in light of Paul’s words to the Corinthians something beautifully personal emerges.
He says, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him;
for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.” (I Cor. 3:16-17)
Dear sister, do you not see?
That temple is YOU.
All those things residing in that temple that are not worthy of being there, He longs to drive out. Those wounds from your past, those sins that bind you, those attacks from the evil one, that depression, that resentment, that unresolved grief, that addiction, that anger…all those things taking up His space in you, His holy temple…He hates those things more than you do and He longs, yes longs, to drive them out. He hates the way sin grasps ahold of us. He hates how the wounds inflicted by others stifle the free expression of our hearts. He hates the depression and despair that cloud our vision of who we are and what we are called to become. Zeal for YOU, His precious temple, consumes Him and drives Him to long to restore us to our true beauty and purpose. Not because you are not good enough, no, not at all. Quite the opposite, really. It is rather because you are His temple and so loved and infinitely precious to Him. His anger is not at the temple. No, that is the very thing He views as beautiful and worthy of redemption! His anger is at the things defiling it. He wants to see your heart whole again and He wants it a fitting place to be fully His.
But sometimes, dear one, oh sometimes, that cleansing must happen with a whip. Sometimes, to clear that space in our temple, oh, does it sting! The whip becomes an instrument of mercy clearing out what is unfitting our beauty and dignity. His love manifests in the zeal He has to redeem us from what defiles us. And often after driving out the bad, that same whip becomes the surgeon’s needle, piercing the flesh, yes, but threading and binding our wounds so that they can heal correctly and we can be made whole again.
What is it that is taking up your temple space? What is it that has a hold on your soul that is keeping it from being a holy and fitting temple for Him? What are those things that your Beloved wants to redeem you from? Are they sins? Past hurts? Attacks? Can we allow that Jesus to enter into our temples in His wild mercy and love to cast those things out? Can we see the love behind the zeal? The zeal for you, His beloved temple, consumes Him, dear one. Let us try today to open our temple to the cleansing of the Lord that we can become beautiful and holy temples again.