“WWJD” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell
I am thankful for another week on this Lenten journey with you. I have carried you with me in spirit and prayer this week and will continue to do so. This week we welcome back Pastor Kaji and know she will bring incredible word with one of my favorite texts.
I am sure that most of you have heard the term “What would Jesus Do (WWJD)” that has been attributed to Charles Spurgeon via Thomas à Kempis. It is a motto of sorts that helps people pivot their life back onto a path that more authentically follows Jesus. This directive to follow a moral imperative based on the life of Jesus can be found around the world. However, this statement can prove problematic if we assume that what Jesus would do has more than one option. More often than not this phrase is interpreted colloquially as “how can one best love their neighbor?” However, as we read today’s text from John’s gospel, sometimes Jesus does a thing that seems a bit un-Jesus-like.
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. Jesus told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making God’s house a market-place!’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. (John 2:13-22)
Y’all sometimes the answer to WWJD is whip people and flip tables! But don’t start braiding your Jesus whip just yet, this is not the typical thing that Jesus does. But what it reminds us is sometimes anger is holy. Sometimes righteous anger is of God. It is sanctified to scream at the brokenness of our world and “flip the tables” on injustice. It is holy to “whip” out those who do not use God’s world for good.
But what I love most about this scripture is that it reminds me when things change and move inside our sacred spaces, it is not to be feared, but to be expected. You see, the scripture tells us that the money-changers were at “their tables,” showing us this was not an unusual scene or unusual people in the temple. But those tables were not theirs to claim. Those tables are of God. Because It’s all of God.
This seems especially pertinent with all of our construction. As the walls seem to close in, it seems like we should be mad and ready to flip over the construction. But what I propose is that this construction is already the tables flipped over! Our tables have been flipped and this is our time to live into God’s hope that something new will break through in this space. God is doing something new and visionary with our space. God is whipping out the old so that something new can unfold and happen.
So, what WOULD Jesus do?
Jesus would do something new with the old and settled.
Jesus would cast out self-righteousness.
Jesus would connect and contribute to the people and ministries of the Temple.
Jesus would offer love and patience on this journey of faith.
So, Church, on this Lenten journey when the journey is hard, and the road is long, ask yourself “What Would Jesus Do?” and then grab the nearest hand or maybe even whip, and carry on.