I've often been perplexed by the interpretation of "The Temple Cleansing" that attributes to Jesus violence against the money-changers. This view is typically put forth as an objection to Christian pacifism, and a moral justification for violence. The proponents of this view are very sure Jesus whipped human beings in the account. For them, it is plainly evident in the text itself. In point of fact, this is precisely not the case at all. There is absolutely no reason to understand Jesus whipping people in this account, outside of a bias in favor of conceptualizing Jesus as violent. And this is precisely what drives this interpretation. There is a strand of Christianity, that is popular in America, which refuses to picture Jesus as "weak" or "defenseless," and prefers to re-conceptualize Jesus as a macho, divine, ultimate-fighter.
Mark Driscoll embodies this sentiment perfectly:
“There is a strong drift toward the hard theological left. Some emergent types [want] to recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in His hair, who drank decaf and made pithy Zen statements about life while shopping for the perfect pair of shoes. In Revelation, Jesus is a pride fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is a guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up. I fear some are becoming more cultural than Christian, and without a big Jesus who has authority and hates sin as revealed in the Bible, we will have less and less Christians, and more and more confused, spiritually self-righteous blogger critics of Christianity.”
Here's the problem with the Macho Jesus theology: It's a false Jesus. The biblical Jesus does lay down his life, and does not whip people. If a person is unable to worship a Jesus who chooses self-sacrificial love over judgment or wrath, then that person cannot follow the true Jesus.
For those who are interested in biblical interpretation, and not simply the cultural repackaging of Jesus to suit one's insecurity, John Howard Yoder wrote and illuminating essay on the Temple Cleansing available at JesusRadicals.com.