It almost seems like there should be a disclaimer before this scripture. No humans, animals, birds, etc. were harmed during Jesus’ Temple visit.
But there were a lot of shocked, offended, angry, puzzled people there. And oh yes … some very grateful animals and birds who were freed.
Jesus was fulfilling part of the mission He read aloud at the temple at the beginning of His Ministry … to set the captives free.
So what happened?
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
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.
To those who sold doves He said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning My Father’s house into a market!”
What do we make of this? Wasn’t this a little out of character for Jesus, The One Who preached Love?
No, it was exactly in character from The One Who said, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’”
People had become accustomed to sacrifice, even though God gave the message early on He did not want sacrifice as some sort of transaction with Him.
True sacrifice is doing just what Jesus said.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are My Friends if you do what I command.
Laying down your life does not necessarily mean dying. It may mean something harder than dying. It may mean living and giving up the life you planned in order to be there for another.
Jesus’ Followers did that. They put aside the lives they had planned and followed Him, even when He went places they did not want to go.
That was the true sacrifice God wanted.
He did not want the sacrifice of His Creations to try to make a deal with Him.
And His Goodness and Mercy were not for sale.
At the temple that day, Jesus interrupted human business deals and got down to His Business of setting the captives free. The cows, sheep and doves were grateful.
Jesus showed Mercy, as He would later in the week when He forgave what seems to us unforgivable and when He took a friend, some called a thief, Home with Him.
What true sacrifice does God want from you? How does He want you to extend His Mercy to the world?