WWJW—Who Would Jesus Whip?
I love those brightly colored silicon wristbands that everyone seems to be sporting these days. I searched for one that had these letters—WWJW—but found none. I would like to order several thousand and give them out freely at sports events and church worship services. It stands for "Who Would Jesus Whip?"
Not possible you say? Jesus wouldn't whip anyone? He is a God of love and understanding and peace. Charles Wesley said it well in that classic poem he wrote, "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, look upon a little child; pity my simplicity, suffer me to come to Thee." I like that picture of Jesus but it is only part of the story.
As gentle as Jesus was it did not stop Him from forming a whip and chasing the moneychangers out of the temple in Matthew 21:12. This was the same God who killed Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6:6. I think both of these incidents are linked.
It was Uzzah who tried to steady the Ark of the Covenant when it was being transported across the country in a cart. It made God angry to see how His people were treating the symbol of His presence. It would be like putting the Prime Minister of Canada in the trunk of the car on an official tour of the city. Not a respectable way to treat a prime minister.
God had made it clear that the only way the Ark was to be carried was on the shoulders of the priests. That's why there were gold rings on each corner of the ark. Not hard to miss, those gold rings. That was the last time the Israelites tried that. Uzzah was an important lesson.
Jesus was very angry and caused a scene at the temple twice—once at the beginning of His public ministry and once at the very end—the day before they crucified Him. The temple was where God was to meet man and man was to meet God. Daily sacrifices, incense filling the air. Not hard to miss. It made God angry to see how the religious leaders were treating the temple: angry enough to do something seemingly out of character with His normal manner. Or was it?
Jesus often gets bad press. Some see Him as a combination of Mr. Rogers and Santa Claus. But He didn't come to make us feel good about ourselves. He came to deal with sin. The word sinner is a theological designation. It is not a moralistic judgment. The thing that matters most to a sinner is forgiveness and grace. The Ark of the Covenant and the temple in Jerusalem dealt with these issues. The religious leaders had departed grossly from that path and that made God angry.
In the New Testament, He made a whip and started swinging. They got the message. A day later, He was hanging on the cross, the last sacrifice to be offered. The gospel is about restoring us to an offended God. Not hard to miss. Or is it?
Don't mess with God on this point. He is not interested in making us feel good about ourselves. He wants to deal with our sin. Every sin we commit is committed before His face. We don't sin in a corner. If His death was His final answer, His life in us is His final solution.
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