Ep.078: Angry Jesus.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”. 

Today in John 2, Jesus expresses violent anger in the temple. Here’s why. In the temple courts he found merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and foreign currency traders negotiating exchanges. All in support of the normal temple requirements for offerings and sacrifices. Jesus made a whip out of cords and cleared the temple of animals and merchants. He scattered the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. To the dove sellers he said, ‘Get these out of here! You  have turned my Father’s house into a market!’”

Jesus, the hospitable winemaker of Cana, has inexplicably become an angry whip-maker. 

I prefer the winemaker Jesus to the whip-maker. Those who bring wine to a party are my kind of people. Those who get angry in public are not my kind of people. Do you too find Jesus’ hostility disturbing? Was it helpful for him to make a whip, dump tables, and tell retailers to get out? Couldn’t he have offered a friendly explanation of what he thought was wrong? Couldn’t he have discussed the problem over a glass of wine? 

In response to the scene Jesus made in the temple, the people reasonably asked, “Show us a sign that you have authority to create this disturbance.” Jesus replied, “If you destroy this temple, I will build it again in three days.” Today, China builds major projects in mere weeks, but the temple in Jerusalem took forty-six years to build. Jesus’ listeners were dumbfounded that he said he could do it in a weekend. They thought he was delusional. Seeing the unclear message, John in his gospel explains, “Jesus wasn’t talking about the Jerusalem temple. He was talking about the temple of his body.” If that’s what Jesus meant, why didn’t he say so? 

Let’s pray, putting ourselves into the story.

Lord, we are the retailers and money changers in the temple of our body. We treat it as a market of exchange, filling it with sugars and starches and fats. We fail to give it proper exercise. We poison our minds with modern entertainment, instead of worshipping you in your temple. 

We are the people to whom you said, “Destroy this temple and I will raise it in three days.” This is the first of your mysterious sayings. Later, you tell us to eat your body and drink your blood. You say, “Sell everything, give it to the poor and follow me.” You tell us something went wrong the first time we were born, and you tell us to be born again. You tell us to take up our cross and follow you. Will that bring us to an early and unjust death like yours?

Jesus, we are good Christrians. We have developed comfortable explanations for your hard sayings, explanations that permit us to sell animals and exchange money in the courts of your temple, explanations which support our moderate religious experience, free of zeal and passion. We find your anger and zeal disturbing. Forgive us Lord, draw us into your life, help us to be angry at things that anger you, help us join you in confronting our sins and the sins of the church. 

John chapter two introduces you as a winemaker and the whip-maker. We receive you as both. Help us learn when to share a quiet glass of wine, and when to act in righteous anger. 


I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.

Ep.076: Only the Best Wine.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”. 

Today, we look at the second chapter in the Gospel of John.  Jesus and his disciples went to a wedding in Cana. Soon the wedding ran out of wine. I hope that doesn’t happen you attend weddings.

Jesus’ mother, thinking he might want to help, said to him, “They have no wine.” Jesus replied, “Not my problem.” But Mary persisted in hoping Jesus would get involved, so she said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 

After a while, Jesus decided it was his problem after all, so he said to the servants, “Fill those jugs with water.” Then he said, “Take some to the headwaiter.” The headwaiter tasted it and said to the bridegroom, “This isn’t average wine. This is the good stuff. Why didn’t you serve this first?” 

Let’s pray this story from the viewpoint of several actors. 

Lord, in this story you are a full participant in human culture, a welcome guest at a wedding. Help us  follow your example. Help us not to isolate ourselves in churchland with people who look like us and think like us and believe like us. Help us to participate fully and freely in our neighbourhood, our workplace, our community. Lord, how narrow we have grown, seeing the same people every week, having the same conversations about religion and politics and world events, hearing the same sermon at church. Jesus, help us to engage a wider circle, those from different economic classes, social strata, and countries. Teach us to care for outsiders — immigrants, widows, orphans, prisoners, and gays.

Lord, your mother was accustomed to domestic life with you in your Nazareth home. But in this story she learned a new way of relating to you. You brushed off her and the problem and she had to wait in uncertainty about what you might do. Like Mary, we have grown accustomed to our domestic life with you. You are the carpenter in our family, and we organize the household. But our intuition says you are not as domesticated as we think. Our churches don’t demonstrate your power to build community and make good wine. Jesus, teach us like Mary to see the problem, bring it to you, receive your response, and wait for your action. Help us not to strategize our solutions for the wine we know is missing–help us look to you, to find in you a miracle that supplies only the best wine–no matter when it comes our way. 

Lord, in this story the disciples saw your first sign and believed in you. O Jesus, this exposes the problem of believing. It was not a rational problem: where the disciples needed the right system of doctrine, it was not a philosophical problem: where they needed to discover and adopt the right world view. It was a spiritual problem to see you at work, to look beyond the wine to the winemaker. Help us to see the work you do. 

Jesus, who understood what happened? Did the servants understand when they drew water from the jugs? Did the headwaiter investigate the source of good wine? Did the bride and bridegroom understand the transformation? We are your disciples, we have caught a glimpse of water turned to wine, of the carpenter become winemaker. Jesus, help us drink your good wine, show us the source, teach us to believe in you. 


I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.