A New Hymn on Jesus’ Protest: When Christ Went to the Temple | Sojourners

A New Hymn on Jesus’ Protest: When Christ Went to the Temple

Jesus’ protest in the Temple is a very important story that is told by all four gospel writers (Matthew 21:12–17; Mark 11:15–19; Luke 19:45–48 and John 2:13–16). His prophetic act has sometimes been used to justify the use of violence and so-called “just wars” because some biblical translations (King James Version, Common English Bible) describe Jesus using a whip (only mentioned in John 2:15) on people as well as animals. A careful study of the original Greek shows Jesus only used the whip on the animals (NRSV and NIV are accurate).

Andy Alexis-Baker, a doctoral student at Marquette University, wrote in the Biblical Interpretation:

“The temple incident has been a popular episode in Jesus’ ministry from which Christians since Augustine have drawn to justify Christian violence ranging from punishing schismatics and heretics to justifying war and the death penalty. However, another tradition of reading this passage nonviolently began well before Augustine. Whether contextualizing the passage in a narrative reading so that it would have spiritual meaning or seeing the Greek grammar as disallowing that Jesus hit people with the whip, these nonviolent strategies effectively undercut any notion that Jesus’ action could provide a model for Christian violence. A close reading of the Greek text, I believe, supports these nonviolent strategies for reading the text, which simply denies based on Greek grammar that Jesus used his whip on any person.”

The gospel reading of the Revised Common Lectionary for this Sunday, March 8th, is John 2:13-22. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette wrote a new hymn based on Jesus’ Protest. The Presbyterian Outlook magazine has posted this new hymn as a free download in a MS Word file for a worship bulletin insert and also formatted the hymn with the music. The national United Methodist Worship Office has formatted the hymn with the music as a free download file.




When Christ Went to the Temple

LLANGLOFFAN D (“Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers”)

When Christ went to the Temple to worship God one day,

He entered through the courtyard where anyone could pray.

That court was for the nations--and all could enter in.

But Jesus found a market, a shameful robbers’ den.


There, cattle, sheep, and pigeons were sold for sacrifice,

And moneychangers shouted of quality and price.

Outsiders could not enter the inner courts for prayer.

Their only place to worship was in the courtyard there.


When prayer gave way to profit, and pride closed many doors,

The Lord cried out in anger and made a whip of cords.

He shooed the sheep and cattle and scattered pigeons, too.

God's house was for all people-- not for a chosen few.


O God, you love the nations and call us all to pray.

Forgive us when our worship turns other folk away.

As Christ, in loving protest, fought prejudice and pride,

May we who follow Jesus now welcome all inside.


Biblical References: Matthew 21:12–17; Mark 11:15–19; Luke 19:45–48 and John 2:13–16.

Tune: Welsh Folk Melody. Evans' Hymnau a Thonau, 1865 as in English Hymnal, 1906

Alternative Tune: ANGEL'S STORY D ("O Jesus, I Have Promised") Arthur Henry Mann, 1888

Text: Copyright © 2015 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.

Email: bcgillette@comcast.net New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com

Hymn Use Permission: Churches that support Sojourners have copyright permission to use “When Christ Went to the Templein their local church.

Carolyn Winfrey Gillette is the author of Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor (Discipleship Resources/Upper Room Books) and Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today’s Worship (Geneva Press). A complete list of the 200+ hymns by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, many with peace and justice themes, can be found at www.carolynshymns.com

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