John 2:13–22 is popularly interpreted as an example of Jesus’ anger and hence his humanity. Jesus’ actions of taking the whip, herding out the animals, and overturning the tables are pointed to as evidence that Jesus could get angry. Such attempts to amass evidence to prove Jesus’ humanity actually undercut the power of the incarnation, however. To focus on isolated attributes or emotions as proof of Jesus’ humanity is in effect to seek after signs, to base one’s faith on the surface evidence without perceiving the deeper reality. The underlying reality of the Fourth Gospel narrative is that “the Word became flesh” (1:14). Jesus’ humanity thus pervades everything he says and does in his ministry. The scandal of John 2:13–22 is not Jesus’ anger as proof of his humanity, but the authority this human being claims for himself through his words and actions.
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