The DEEP

Courage of Their Conviction

is courage.

John 2:12–17 (ESV)

After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

The Bible never describes Jesus as physically large or strong. He is strong mentally and spiritually, but physically, He’s no Samson. So how come He manages to pull off this Samson-like stunt of single- handedly clearing the entire temple?

First of all, we need to be clear about where this happened. Jesus and his disciples weren’t inside the temple proper, but in the courtyard in front known as the court of the Gentiles. The transactions the worshippers made in the courtyard were to “qualify” them to enter the temple.

Except that no transactions should be needed. The worshippers were supposed to bring a firstborn without defect as a sacrifice (zev-akh in Hebrew). They had to know this, or they wouldn’t have come in the first place. So, the courtyard activity is nothing more than a racket, where you could buy a “certified” blemish-free zev-akh. This is an outrage, but most folks aren’t bold enough to make a stink about it.

Enter Jesus. Notice that today’s passage doesn’t say that anything supernatural happened. Jesus just throws a big temper-tantrum. He’s not being Jesus the God; He’s Jesus the Lionhearted.

And He’s up against a bunch of petty thieves who haven’t got an ounce of “courage of their conviction.” As soon as they’re challenged, they scatter like cockroaches. So, we learn two things from, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

It explains why Jesus cleared the temple, and it also explains how.


With “courage of their conviction” first century Christians turned the world upside down. Now we cower in the face of people who deny even the most obvious science about gender. These people may be nasty, but they’re not Nero. He couldn’t dominate Christianity; why can they? How did we get to this point?

It’s courage of their conviction. The left may be obviously wrong, but they act like they’re sure they’re right. They’re so sure, they think it’s okay to use totally intolerant tactics like forcibly suppressing debate.

Our problem isn’t that we’re too nice; it’s that we’re not so sure we’re right. We need a martyr’s faith.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.