Some stories about Jesus are widely misunderstood; this is one of them. Of course, that should not surprise anyone. Jesus was misunderstood even while He lived on this earth. If those living with Him in that culture at that time struggled to understood the things He said and did, why would we expect to be different?
From the very beginning, Jesus faced a language barrier with the people of this planet. A few years ago I traveled to Togo, Africa with a group from Pinedale to support and encourage one of our excellent missionaries. As soon as the plane landed, I knew I was a long way from home. The landscape was incredibly different from what I am used to. Architecture was different. Climate was different.
Of course, none of those things were barriers for me, but language was. Throughout the week, I struggled to communicate with people I met. I needed an interpreter just to engage in small talk; just to ask a simple question or explain a simple through. On Sunday morning, I preached using an interpreter – something that doesn’t come as naturally as you would think.
Since that trip, I’ve taken a similar trip to Zimbabwe. Both times, I left the country thinking the same thing: people are similar wherever you go, but language is a great separator.
Technically, Jesus spoke the same language as the people around Him, but look deeper. Most people speak the language of “self.” We know how to look out for ourselves above all else. Jesus spoke the language of love, which is selfless. Those two languages are incompatible. That’s why incidents like the one at the Temple in today’s verses were so explosive and difficult to reconcile.
The sellers and money-changers at the Temple twisted the sacrificial system of Worship for themselves. They made money for themselves. They attached importance to themselves. But where they saw smart business, Jesus took offense. He loved the Father, so seeing the Temple trample on God’s Holiness cause His heart to burn within Him. He loved people, so seeing how this sellers and money-changers took advantage of poor people grieved His heart. Jesus’ outburst wasn’t motivated by hatred. It was motivated by love.
Even if the world struggled to comprehend His message, He came to teach something brand new. He came to teach the language of love, and sometimes love must fight for what is right.