The Restraint of God

Resource Scripture Passage: John 2:13-25  

            Emphasize the anger? Did I miss the active sustaining Divine kindness?

            Hearing lessons and sermons throughout my life, today’s passage (John 2:13-25) does not arrive like a foreign visitor. However, I now see something I had not seen before. Wondering if you will see it as well—the restraint of God. Today’s passage is commonly emphasized as an event manifesting the anger of Jesus. However, I find the passage enriches my understanding of God’s grace, mercy and elegant restraint.

            Make no mistake, the individuals mentioned in John’s account encounter Jesus lashing out in anger and exasperation. However, when Jesus engages the errant people they are blessed with the restraint of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Divine restraint is not weakness. It is the manifestation of mercy and grace. 

            Though Scripture records Jesus crafted a whip, there is no record of anyone or anything being struck. Jesus, beloved son, only begotten of the Father, He Who could have called ten thousand angels, simply knocks over tables. Money bounces and clatters onto the floor.

            What is finally clear to me, pleading to be seen is Christ’s restraint. This is the One Who breathed into Earth’s soil the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). This is the One Who set the Pleiades and Orion into place (Amos 5:8). This is the One Who is before all things and will be after all things—Alpha and Omega (Revelation 22:13).  His identity extends through eternity. Our brother Paul explains, “For by him were all things created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…all things were created by him and for him” (Colossians 1:15-16).

            Yet, manifesting the restraint of God, Jesus only turns over tables. Animals are scattered, voices raised and a public disturbance occurs. He could have done so much more including calling upon Father and Spirit for any number of plagues, punishments and pestilences to occur (see Exodus 7 for part of thatstory).

            Thankfully, God’s grace and mercy are manifest through Jesus. He corrected the individuals and the religious system of His day, delivering God’s pruning discipline (Psalm 94:12). Jesus did not call down destruction upon them. Friends, I am entirely, completely and without reservation in personal need of the restraint of God. 

            God’s restraint manifests itself as I am disciplined by Christ (John 15:1-8). Jesus turns over my tables, scatters my resources and lovingly raises a voice of anger at my behavior. 

            Without God’s personal and Christ-provided restraint, I, a member of the broken sinful race of humanity would be subject to the punishment of God. However, with Jesus—the crucified, resurrected and ascended Christ—I am humbly aware that I do not receive that which I deserve (Romans 8:1). Instead I (like the money changers and animal sellers of old), receive grace and mercy in the form of God’s restraint with an opportunity to accept God’s correcting discipline (Hebrews 12:6).

Life Application Questions

  1. Are you aware of times in your life when you should have received the anger of Jesus but instead received grace and mercy?
  2. If you answered yes to the first question, how do your personal experiences with God impact your treatment of others?
  3. As a result of reflecting on today’s passage what have you learned about God?

Published by Andrew Simkins

Dr. Andrew Simkins provides spiritual direction for individuals and small groups through the regular blog posts found on this site. He resides in northwest Indiana with his beloved, along with nearby children and grandchildren who are the adornment of his life.

6 thoughts on “The Restraint of God

  1. Very helpful insight, Andy. I really like the emphasis on Christ’s restraint instead of anger. Such a good reminder…

    Sent from my Sprint Samsung Galaxy S8+.


  2. Great, new, fresh and insightful perspective! And oh yes…how grateful I am for His grace and mercy to me on a regular basis!!!


  3. Great observation,well turned phrases. A resounding yes to needing his restraint in the midst of His lavish grace.


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