“On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts” – Mark 11:15-16 NIV
If you heard about a comic book character known as, “The Disrupter” would you imagine a villain or a hero?
It is easy to think of disruption as inherently negative. We want our lives to run smoothly and according to plan. With this desire as a baseline it’s hard to see disruption in a positive light. Perhaps that’s why this story about Jesus in the temple felt so out of place to me for so long. It disrupts the image of “Gentle Jesus, Meek, and Mild.” And yet this story about Jesus, The Disrupter, cannot be written off as an aberration. The narrative of Jesus’ outburst in the temple is one of the few stories recorded in all four gospels. Perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising as the scene Jesus caused would have certainly been memorable.
Some describe this moment as the cleansing of the temple; a judgment on what had become of the temple system.
Some see the overturning of the money changers as a critique on predatory economic practices of the day.
One thing is clear, Jesus was disruptive. Yet we have to place this disruption in its proper context. This disrupting Jesus is the same Jesus who taught and modeled the principle, “love your enemies”.
The disruption he caused was rooted in love. It was love for the poor families who were being gouged in the name of religious observance. It was love for those who sought to celebrate God. It was love for the temple officials who were colluding with the Roman government in order to retain power. Disruption rooted in love for people on every side of the equation is what transforms this moment from a headline grabbing stunt to a pregnant pause. Jesus wasn’t trying to prove a point or win the upper hand in an argument. That is not the way of love. When love disrupts us it invites us consider the path we’re pursuing, the patterns of behavior we’re a part of, and the goals we’re seeking.
Jesus’ disruption took place during Passover, the celebration of God’s deliverance. The saving aka liberating work of God will always mean the loving disruption of the fears, beliefs, and actions that bind us.