Whip-Wielding, Table-Turning Messiah

For most folks, “Gentle Jesus” is the image we carry of the Messiah. The whip-wielding, table-turning, angry Jesus who cleanses the temple seems to be an aberration. When Jesus finds that the noise of livestock and clatter of coins is louder than the prayers; when he sees that the name of God is being used for personal gain, he gets angry, righteously angry. We do the same kind of things today. So, what does “cleansing the temple” mean for us?


When most of us think about spiritual things, we think of self-improvement, or happiness, or success. Faith should lead to joy and glory. Religion should help us avoid the “bad things” in life. The scriptural witness however, doesn’t support these notions. Instead, Jesus invites Peter to follow to the cross. Peter doesn’t want to go. Psalm 22 begins with the words, “My God, my God; why have you forsaken me?” – the dying words of Jesus. The psalm answers this lament by pivoting to praise and the promises of God from this heart-wrenching lament.  In the midst of our suffering, we don’t reject God, but embrace God all the more.


copyright © Timothy V. Olson, 2018

What Then Shall I Say?

So, I was thinking that in this season of Lent, it is always good to pause for a little self-reflection; some confession; some opportunity to grow and assess our lives.It is kind of like a song blues musician Jonny Lang sings called “Red Light” (follow the link to hear the song)

A chance to breathe 
while sitting at a red light.
You look around 
reflecting on your life.

A chance to think
“Am I drinking too much?
Should I keep going, 
lose the life that I love?
A second glance
when coming to a red light.

So, I was thinking that some reflection on this blog might be in order. First, I have to admit that the idea that anyone – and I mean anyone – would ever think what I say or write would be of any value is a very foreign notion – especially to my Scandinavian side which is steeped in modesty bordering on self-doubt and bears at least a dash of false humility. My Irish side is far less humble, loquacious to a fault but also cynical.  So, I was thinking that I should ask – Do you find these far less than regular ponderings helpful?  Or do you find them just more “blah-blah-blah” calling for your attention from the virtual mailbox?  Do you find what I’m thinking about and sharing relevant to your life? Your faith journey?  If you do… Why?  If you don’t… what would help?

You see, I feel like this particular work of spiritual monologue is still searching for a voice.  I struggle with what to talk about, what is needed, what you might be pondering.  So, maybe you could help and share with me what keeps you awake about God, or this broken world, or believing.  What would you like to hear your pastor, any pastor, or just a guy with his own neuroses, struggles and way too much grad school write about that would help you and your journey with matters of faith and religion?

You can post a comment here or email me at tim@holytrinityankeny.org  Thanks for joining in my Lenten reflection.

Pax Christi,  Tim Olson