Flipping Over Tables with Jesus

by

From the Series: This Is the Way

The Kingdom of God declares the eventual end of every system that causes suffering and injustice in the world.

Jesus came to announce the Kingdom. AND… he came to demonstrate it’s power…

John 2:13-22 NRSV

[13] The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. [14] In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. [15] Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. [16] He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”

[17] His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” [18] The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” [19] Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” [20] The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” [21] But he was speaking of the temple of his body. [22] After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

I can remember this passage being the subject of a debate that took place in the church I grew up in as a kid. Someone’s kid brought candy bars to church to hopefully sell in the lobby to raise money for their school. They were denied and highly offended because of this passage, which we interpreted as “don’t sell stuff in church.”

There is SO MUCH MORE to this story than that…

By flipping over tables and driving out merchants, Jesus was demonstrating the active power of the good news of the Kingdom to people suffering under unjust systems.

In the Temple, all three of the pillars we mentioned last week (empire, religion, and commerce) combined to create oppressive and unjust systems.

The Temple was the center of the Jewish religion (and had its own court, laws, and police system). It was provided by the government (the “46 years” is in reference to renovations financed by Herod, the puppet king. And the money changing and selling of sacrificial animals had become a business that succeeded by oppressing the poor.

And Jesus got angry.

Following Jesus means getting angry about injustice.

  • We are normally blind to any injustice that isn’t personal to us.
  • We are also resistant to facing any injustice we’ve inadvertently been part of.
  • We need to SEE injustice around us.
  • We need to EXAMINE our own complicity.
  • We need to FEEL the heaviness of those suffering.

Following Jesus means getting active in flipping tables.

  • When our religion has become a tool for judging, hurting, and excluding people from the family of God, flip the tables.
  • When the political or justice system fails to treat the Black, the poor, the minority with equity and equality, flip the tables!
  • When economic systems are stacked to make the wealthy and powerful more wealthy and powerful while keeping the poor down, flip the tables!

WARNING… Following Jesus will also probably mean being attacked (but that’s part of what it means to take up your cross).

When you start speaking up on behalf of the oppressed, you will upset people. This is part of what put Jesus on the cross – he crossed the religious leaders, the commercial leaders, and the leaders of empire.

Following Jesus is HARD!

It’s taking up a cross.

It’s dying to self.

It’s becoming others-focused.

It’s facing the realities of injustice.

It’s speaking on behalf of the oppressed.

But… if you want to follow Jesus, you are welcome. He invites us freely!

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