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John 2:14-15: Is the violence of Jesus in the temple a denial that he is God?

1. Introduction

Some Muslims claim that Jesus was violent in the temple and because of that he cannot be God. They refer to the following verses in the Gospel:
“In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables” (John 2:14-15).
In the verses, Jesus Christ enters the temple area where the money changers perform commercial activities in a holy place. The animal sacrifice practices in the temple had become very corrupted. The acts of Jesus refer to the Supreme Being as his Father and claims that the temple is the house of his Father.

2. Jesus did not hurt anyone or attack anyone

It cannot be denied that Jesus challenged people and with the result that many people left the area, but it was directed to immoral people and therefore an act of righteousness. Therefore it is not possible to prove that Jesus used violence. There is a widespread agreement by scholars that the incident took place only one and that it took place in the last week of the life of Jesus [1].

3. Jesus’ reason was justified by the worship to the Father

From the context of the verses can be derived that the reason for the actions of Jesus is love and obedience to the Supreme Being, God Almighty: “His disciples remembered that it was written, zeal for your house will consume me” (John 2:17). Jesus has the right to act against corrupt and commercial activities in the temple, because of an command in the Hebrew Scripture that no trader shall again be seen in the house of the Lord of Hosts (Zechariah 14:16-21).

4. The acts of Jesus are a representation of God’s character

The acts of Jesus at the temple area were calculated prophetic and symbolic. Most Jews believed that the Messiah would restore the temple and make it a house of God’s worship. The cleaning act of Jesus to remove the commercial practices was an event to demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus showed God’s hate against immoral practices and injustice. The acts of Jesus in the temple area showed his guidelines for pure worship of his Father. He revealed that a reform was necessary to get true worship, and to bring man to a proper care for the glory of God. That the verses of the incident mention “Passover of the Jews” in John 2:14 means that no longer observers this feast for living practices. It is an indication that a hostility practices to the Jewish feasts are to be replaced by Jesus [2]. The living spiritual practices of the Passover have been fulfilled in and through Jesus Christ, the Savior [3]

5. Conclusion

The incident in the temple area where Jesus challenges immoral commercial people to change their life, has the outcome in a new worship of God, born out of a new relation to God in an through Jesus Christ the Savior [4]. The violence of Jesus in the temple is not a denial, but his acts are a confirmation that he is God.


Notes:

1. George R. Beasley-Murray, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 36, John, Word, Waco, 1987, 38.
2. Raymond E. Brown, The Anchor Bible, The Gospel according to John (xiii-xxi), Doubleday & Company, New York, 1970, 114.
3. George R. Beasley-Murray, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 36, John, Word, Waco, 1987, 39.
4. Ibid.

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