The image above is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. The image was created by Albrecht Durer and is called “Christ Driving the Moneylenders from the Temple.”
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.
Dear God, I’ve read this story and heard about this story so many times that it can be hard to come at it fresh. But this image from Mr. Durer helps a little. There are some striking things about it:
- Jesus is holding a whip. It’s different than the one that will be used on him later in the week, but it’s interesting to see a violent Jesus. Is there a time and a place for violence?
- The man on the ground seems to be knocked out or incapacitated in some way. I know this is just the artist’s rendition, but it’s an interesting thought as to what extent of physical damage Jesus did.
- There is a man holding a lamb. People were there to get what they needed for the Passover. Jesus would become their lamb. In fact, in reality, there would become no need for these things again. It makes me wonder what the disciples did for the Passover in the y ears to come. Did they still follow all of the Jewish rituals? I’ll be they did.
- I think I see a Pharisee’s hat way in the background on the right.
- Jesus is very heavily clothed. I don’t normally picture him with that much clothing.
- The artist decided that Jesus was right-handed. I wonder if he really was.
Here i what the author of the book had to say about this image:
in contrast to Late Gothic depictions of a delicate or fragile Christ, in this piece, Durer created an intense, militant, and manly Christ. A modern Jesus would politely ask the money changers to leave. But that is not the Jesus of Scripture. He forcefully drives the money changers out, overturning tables and throwing seats. Jesus acts in this audacious manner because he knows he owns the temple. He is defending his place in the same way a home owner would defend his own house. Jesus is violent, defiant, and takes into his own hands the removal of those who desecrate the temple. This work was part of a larger series of prints called The Small Passion, and was quite relevant to the time. A Christ who as fighting for holiness rang true with young Reformers.
I guess the thing that I would also add is that this is the beginning of a violent week. Jesus is very intense in his emotion and his passion (little “p”). He only has a little bit of time left and there isn’t any to waste.
Father, help me to not grieve you the way these moneychangers grieved you. As I raise money for a nonprofit, help me to aspire to the best parts of philanthropy and not manipulate people for my own purposes. During this Passion Week, help me to be very mindful of who you are, what you did, and what that means to me today. Help me to worship you well and follow your leading.
In Jesus’s name I pray,