In 1980, the new wave rock band, Devo, released their biggest hit, “Whip It.” It was intended as satire against American optimism and became an anthem of counterculturalism. It also had significant appeal in sadomasochistic circles. What’s interesting about the song is that it alludes to the premise that you can whip any problem — person, place, or thing — into the end-state you wish it to be in.
Unfortunately, this mentality has crept into the church.
Today, I want to talk about whips and how they have become a problem for the body of Christ.
John 2:15 And having made a lash (a whip) of cords, He drove them all out of the temple [enclosure]—both the sheep and the oxen—spilling and scattering the brokers’ money and upsetting and tossing around their trays (their stands).
Jesus made a whip. And He “violently” drove sinners out of the temple. This is the narrative that has been shared for this story. And while we see in the two verses that follows this, Jesus was upset because the temple had become a place of merchandise and that it was fulfilling of a prophecy that said zeal for God’s house would consume Him.
I’m going to deal with these two verses in a few minutes but let’s review the nature and character of Jesus. First, Jesus was nonviolent. He told those who heard him that “an eye for an eye” was not the proper approach. He rebuked James and John for wanting to bring fire from heaven. He chided Peter for cutting a man’s ear off. In all the Gospel accounts, we never find Jesus causing or bringing harm to anyone.
So Jesus would have been at odds with Himself to commit a violent act when He, Himself, was against violence.
The rulers of the temple allowed moneychangers (usurious lenders and unscrupulous merchants) to operate in the temple. In other words, legalistic religion permitted this. These were not drunkards, prostitutes, or whoremongers — these were people with religion’s stamp of approval. And they were making merchandise out of the people of God.
This is what got Jesus whipped into a frenzy! Not the temple, itself, but how the temple system was polluting the people. Jesus was showing us that sometimes, we have to chase things out of the temple of God — which is our bodies. Anything that can take advantage of you or others needs to go! Jesus was sweeping the law, the monetary system of the world, and religion out of the temple — in other words, he was giving us an example of renewing our minds!
So, in this context, Jesus used this cord as more of a broom than a whip!
If we continue further into the book of John, we see Pontius Pilate having Jesus scourged before going to the Cross. It’s here where we find what religion really likes. The purpose of the Romans scourging Jesus was to get him to confess to a crime he did not commit and to conform to the detente established between Rome and the legalistic Jewish leaders. Religion likes pain. Religion likes beating people into submission. Religion likes to hear confession.
Grace refuses to hear any confession of wrongdoing and does not accuse anyone. Why? Because God said He’d remember our sins no more (Hebrews 8:12, 10:17)! Grace empowers us to confess our holiness (Hebrews 10:10, 14) and our righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21)! Grace enables us to recognize we are loved by God!
Religion sees Jesus’ whip in the same context as the Roman whip. But Jesus’ whip was to demonstrate the removing of impurities while the Roman whip intended to beat purity into the one human being with no impurities!
The Apostle Paul had a whip issue, too. In Acts 2:24-28, we find Paul arrested and about to be flogged. But Paul had an ace up his sleeve — he reminded his captors and tormentors of his Roman citizenship, which made it illegal for him to be beaten without first being tried and condemned.
This is some good news for you, right here! The world, the enemy, and religion will try and beat you into submission. But that’s a whipping you don’t have to take! Why? Because you are a Kingdom Citizen and it is unlawful for them to touch you. You were tried at the cross and found to be in Christ and, therefore, innocent. There is no condemnation to those in Christ and, therefore, no punishment!
So, back to John 2:16-17…
In verse 16, Jesus is showing us that He has authority over the temple and all that takes place in it. In chasing out the merchants and moneychangers, He’s showing us how He’s swept our spirits clean with His Holy Spirit and how to sweep out those things out of our minds that will make merchandise of us.
In verse 17, Jesus is demonstrating His zeal for God’s dwelling place. Before the Cross, He dwelt in buildings made by the hands of men — after the Cross, His dwelling place became the hearts of men made by His hands.
Jesus’ whip has nothing to do with punishment or even correction. It is a demonstration that He loves us so much to make us clean and gives us the tools we need to renew our minds to keep our souls in step with our born-again spirits!
We need to remember that whips are for slaves, not sons.
© 2018 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)