Today in the gospel reading we hear about Jesus driving the moneychangers from the temple (John 2:13-22). Kahlil Gibran has a version of the story, told from the point of view of a “man from the desert.” My wife tells me about commentary that suggests that Jesus overturned the tables, not just to stop the noise and the moneychanging, but also because those sacrifices would no longer be necessary. He stands at the temple as the last sacrifice. We get some sense of that finality in Gibran’s reflection on the event.
The Man from the Desert on the Moneychangers
By Kahlil Gibran
I was a stranger in Jerusalem. I had come to the Holy City to behold the great temple, and to sacrifice upon the altar, for my wife had given twin sons to my tribe.
And after I had made my offering, I stood in the portico of the temple looking down upon the moneychangers and those who sold doves for sacrifice, and listening to the great noise in the court.
And as I stood there came of a sudden a man into the midst of the moneychangers and those who sold doves.
He was a man of majesty, and He came swiftly.
In His hand He held a rope of goat’s hide; and He began to overturn the tables of the moneychangers and to beat the peddlers of birds with the rope.
And I heard Him saying with a loud voice, “Render these birds unto the sky which is their nest.”
Men and women fled from before His face, and He moved amongst them as the whirling wind moves on the sad-hills.
All this came to pass in but a moment, and then the court of the Temple was emptied of the moneychangers. Only the man stood there alone, and His followers stood at a distance.
Then I turned my face and I saw another man in the portico of the temple. And I walked towards him and said, “Sir, who is this man who stands alone, even like another temple?” And he answered me, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet who has appeared of late in Galilee. Here in Jerusalem all men hate Him.”
And I said, “My heart was strong enough to be with His whip, and yielding enough to be at His feet.”
And Jesus turned towards His followers who were awaiting Him. But before He reached them, three of the temple doves flew back, and one alighted upon His left shoulder and the other two at His feet. And he touched each one tenderly. Then He walked on, and there were leagues in every step of His steps.
Now tell me, what power had He to attack and disperse hundreds of men and women without opposition? I was told that they all hate Him, yet no one stood before Him on that day. Had He plucked out the fangs of hate on His way to the court of the temple?