Innocuous: 3. not interesting, stimulating, or significant; pallid; insipid: an innocuous novel.
Perhaps I’m the only strange person who, when reading the gospels, thinks “where’s the chapters and verses that tell of Jesus and the disciples doing really mundane daily activities? Where’s the accounts of Peter sweeping the floors or Matthew grocery shopping?” Certainly there were moments of humdrum and typical day to day activities that they left out for sake of pointing out the truly important matters.
But then in the 11th chapter of Mark’s gospel we find this rather gloriously unimaginative moment in the life of Jesus! Upon first read I released a victorious “AHAH!”
Sadly, after reading it over and in the greater context of the surrounding scriptures I found this wasn’t innocuous at all, instead it was incredibly uninnocuous.
So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. After looking around carefully at everything, he left because it was late in the afternoon. Then he returned to Bethany with the twelve disciples. Mark 11:11 NLT
You may be wondering, “why in the world does this matter?” but I challenge you to consider what was happening when Jesus went into the temple that day. Jesus went into the temple and He found the money changers doing their thing, the animal cartel doing their business, and He found the corruption which broke His Father’s heart.
He found exactly what we remember from the scene in scripture where Jesus went into the temple turning over tables, chasing people out with a whip, but here – on this day – Jesus looks around and “he left”.
Certainly, the emotions were hot that day, we must believe that His righteous indignation was incensed but instead of seizing the opportunity and the moment, He waited.
We know, from John 2:15, that Jesus made a whip; He took the time and the energy to carefully handcraft a whip. (If you’re interested in what goes into making a rope whip, check out this Youtube instructional video)
We can imagine Him carefully listening to the Father while He prayed, receiving instructions. Then, in Mark 11:12-16 we read how Jesus went back the next day and drove them out with that VERY whip He had spent time working to create.
John’s gospel isn’t 100% clear on when the whip was made, it could be interpreted that “making a whip” or “made a whip” was something that happened in the past (it is imperfect third person); I like to think that after visiting the temple on the previous day, He went back to Bethany and started work on the whip, as this process isn’t a quick or simple task that can be completed in a rage.
Which brings me to the main point of this very uninnocuous verse; Jesus didn’t act rashly in Mark 11:11 when He encountered the money changers, nor was He acting in a rage in Mark 11:15. That isn’t to say that He wasn’t angry, nor does it suggest that He didn’t turn over tables or bring a whip! Rather, He was behaving as the righteous judge cleansing the temple and in acting in the fullness of His faculties, totally in control of His emotions and actions, fully engaged in the Father’s work, and hearing from God.
I believe that this may be the big “take-away”; we should avoid at all costs reacting (if Jesus didn’t react and He’s our Master – perhaps we should take that as an example for us to follow) but instead only respond to what God speaks to us about how we should respond.
Are there some areas of your life which you have allowed yourself to react to situations thus considering yourself more privileged than Jesus? How are you doing with making God’s instruction your priority?
Imagine the church filled with people who refuse to react and insist on only responding to God’s instruction, unmoved by situations and circumstances!