Today’s Scripture: Mark 11:15-19
15 When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, 16 and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. 17 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
18 When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. But they were afraid of him because the people were so amazed at his teaching.
19 That evening Jesus and the disciples left the city.
Sometimes I think we get an idea of Jesus in our heads as someone who today would be called a wimp. Jesus certainly was meek, peace-loving, focused on others, welcoming all, loving, and humble. But he was not cowardly, ineffectual, weak, or fragile. Quite the opposite, actually – which this passage show us.
I’m not sure why Jesus exploded with such anger in this instance. Well, I get that the injustice and the defilement and the unrighteousness of the temple market set him off. But Jesus had been faced with injustice and unrighteousness before and not turned into a Tasmanian Devil. Why now?
I’m not sure I’m a good enough student of Jesus to get into his head on this one. Maybe he had a lot on his mind and was stressed out about being in Jerusalem – which he knew would end in his death. Maybe he just could not take another example of the how people just do not get what the Kingdom of God is all about. Maybe the clash between God’s righteousness and what he was observing in the temple was just too much. Or maybe he was hungry, tired, and just fed up. Whatever the trigger was, I’m glad that he got angry.
I’m glad that he got angry because it reminds us that Jesus was no wimp. I’m glad that he got angry because it reminds us that we don’t have to always be a “nice boy” or “nice girl” when it comes to expressing frustration about injustice. Yes, sometimes we need to turn over a few tables.
But most of all I’m glad Jesus got angry because I get angry. Seeing Jesus angry reminds me of his humanness. And when I am reminded of Jesus’ humanness, he feels a little closer to me.
There has always been a tension in Christianity between emphasizing Jesus’ humanity or his divinity. I think the Bible hits the balance just right. Jesus got angry. I do too. His anger was about the righteousness of God. Mine is about running out of Diet Dr. Pepper. So yeah, I have some work to do. But I have a perfect example.
God thank you that Jesus shows us what it means to be human and how to handle all the messy and glorious things that come with being human. Remind us that we are created in you image. Remind us that it’s OK to get angry – especially about injustice and unrighteousness. And help us to handle our anger in ways that honor you.