To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:16)
I grew up with pictures like this of Jesus. Our old sanctuary had stained glass images of him with sheep or on the cross. Pictures in the hallway had children sitting on his lap. I don’t remember dogs in the pictures as depicted above, but they probably existed, too. There’s not anything wrong, per se, with such images except that they only tell half of a story. Jesus never really was a shepherd of literal sheep – he was a carpenter. He was probably physically strong and more of a man’s man than he was a weakling. No doubt Jesus was gentle with children. After all, there are the stories of Jesus saying “let the little children come to me.” But never do we see stained glass windows of Jesus holding a whip and driving people out of the temple. Jesus wasn’t a pushover, and he must have ticked off the religious people enough that they wanted to kill him.
We do a disservice to Jesus when we make him out to simply be a kind, gentle person who always holds lambs and children on his lap.
There were things that were important to him (like prostitution of the heart) that drove him to anger and to act righteously in that anger. As followers of Him, that means we should be willing to get angry over the same things. Jesus wasn’t safe, and he never sought to appease anyone. In three years he turned the world upside down, and it has never been the same since. Was he gentle? Perhaps. But he was also fierce, passionate, and purposeful. Let’s commit to being the same.