And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers seated. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple. John 2:14,15a
Jesus is God. Because of that, He knew the great significance of the Passover, the holiness of the temple, and the sacrificial system of offering the blood of animals for the forgiveness of sins. He didn’t view any of this as man would, but as God would. Consequently, I can only begin to imagine His reaction when He made his way to Jerusalem, entered the temple court and saw the commerce being carried out there by greedy men. Outrage must have been instantaneous.
Two sins were being committed.
1.) To pay the temple tax, one had to have temple currency. Jews who had come from long distances only possessed Roman currency. Money changers were needed to convert one kind of currency into another, much like what we see in airports when we travel abroad. The problem was, the money changers had inflated the rate of conversion, perhaps giving priests a cut of the profit.
2.) If an animal, brought to be sacrificed, had a blemish and was considered unsuitable, temple businessmen would sell a Jewish man a replacement at ten times the cost. In response to all of this, Jesus turned over the tables and sent coins flying.
I find that most people, including me, have a distorted view of a God who gets angry. Either I re-construct an angry God into a passive and loving one, or I fashion Him to be one who is angry and unreasonable all of the time. No middle ground. Both views are rooted in the erroneous conclusions we made about God because of painful relationships here on earth. The ones who represented God to us didn’t do a very good job. We experienced great permissiveness or great oppression under their reign. Satan loves imbalance and doesn’t have to work very hard to thwart our intimacy with God when this kind of foundation is laid.
My desire is to follow Jesus in all things. That means that I can get angry, as He did, yet not sin. I must hate the things that He hates yet love the people who commit them. Most of the time however, my anger is tainted with my flesh. I am angry over injustice, how sin destroys, and at that point, I am like Jesus. But then, if the offense is personal, I am angry at the one who hurt me. I must constantly sort anger issues out with the help of the Counselor, the Holy Spirit. If I’m going to turn tables over anywhere in my life, using my tongue and some decisive action, I must be sure that I have bathed the issue in prayer, searched my heart, and allowed God to sift out any unholy qualities in my response.
So much of this issue feels like a graduate course in the life of the Spirit. Like everything else, I approach Jesus with the heart of a child and say, “teach me!”
These are hard lessons, Jesus. There are times I have longed to see your anger over injustice. Other times, my sin has been the object. Help me see anger asYou see it. Teach me. Amen