Mark 11:15- So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple and overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. NKJV
Just when I think that there is nothing more I can write about or nothing that I can say that is different from what we are all saying, I read the scriptures, and something catches my eye. As I read this passage I had to really think about how angry Jesus had to be at this moment in time.
Mark describes the scene for us:
Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple [grounds] and began driving out [with force] the people who were selling and buying [animals for sacrifice] in the temple area, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers [who made a profit exchanging foreign money for temple coinage] and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise or household wares through the temple [grounds, using the temple area irreverently as a shortcut].Mark 11:15-16 AMP
I am sure, to the disciples, this was just another trip to the temple for Jesus to teach in the synagogue. However, nothing could have been further from the truth! Jesus walks into the temple, and He explodes all over the place!
- As soon as He enters the grounds He began to forcefully drive out the pwople who were selling and buying animals for sacrifice.
- He rushed over to the tables of the moneychangers, those who were profiting as a currency exchange, and He turned over their tables.
- There were others who were selling doves, and He flipped their chairs over.
- And as people tried to pass through the temple as a shortcut, He blocked their way.
Now let’s be honest! If we had witnessed someone acting like this, we would not have thought they were in their right mind. It sounds like pandemonium has broken out. This was not the first time that Jesus saw this activity in the temple, but it was most definitely the time He displayed His great displeasure over their activities. In other words, He was angry!
Typically speaking, we never portray Jesus as anything but loving, patient, kind, and in control. And yet, here He is, the same Jesus who is yet loving, patient, kind, and always in control, flipping over chairs and tables.
Well, my first observation is that Jesus definitely shows His humanity in chapter 11 with this incident. My second observation is that we know that His behavior did not cause Him to sin.
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.Hebrews 4:5 NKJV
So what happened here? The psalmist gives us a clue with these words:
Be angry, and do not sin.Psalm 4:4 NKJV
Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah
Paul said it like this:
“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.Ephesians 4:26-27 NKJV
Interestingly enough, some in the Church would teach that we have to walk in love and not get personally involved in things, or not get angry over what happens to us or around us because as long as we stay in love, everything will work out!
Walking in love is Christianity 101. We are to walk in love at all times. But getting angry is not an absence of love. If it is true that anger negates love, both Jesus (during His earthly ministry) and God Himself, would have been guilty of not operating in love.
Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”Mark 11:17 NKJV
He stopped and gave an important lesson, God’s house was to be a house of prayer but they had turned into a marketplace for their gain. He was furious! He had probably been upset every time He saw this practice, but now, before He got on the cross, He wanted to make it absolutely plain that He did not approve of the way they carried on in the temple. As a matter of fact, it burned Him up!
Righteous anger is what I call it. There are some times when you have a right, to be angry, and you should be angry. If you live in this world unaffected by the things that are happening around you because you “love the Lord” I have a question for you: Is not there a cause?
Now let’s stop for just a second! I am not encouraging you or anyone else to get so angry with what you see that you go on a rampage, use violence, tear something up, or throw a fit. Jesus demonstrated His anger, and it was appropriate for Him to do it the way that He did. But I do not think that walking in a church, an abortion clinic, a courtroom, or any public place to replay what Jesus did in the temple that day, would be appropriate.
What I am saying, is that there are situations that occur in our world that demand that we express our anger over what is happening. That can be expressed in writing and signing petitions, calling our congressmen or representatives, protesting, or other non-violent ways of expression. But whatever form of expressing our anger we choose, if God is going to be a part of it, it must be righteous.
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts. To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.Proverbs 21:2-3 NKJV
I like this proverb because it reminds us that we all think we are right in our own eyes. But that is not what determines righteousness. God determines righteousness, and it starts in our hearts. The proverb continues by reminding us that to do righteousness, (what is right), and to do justice, (what is just), is acceptable to the Lord. It is even more acceptable than any sacrifice.
Although the Old Testament gives us many examples of when righteous anger resulted in the people of God going to war, we don’t make war today. We live in a world governed by laws and we strive to live peaceably in our communities. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be angry, or we can’t protest, or we can’t vocally disagree with what we see and hear. And friends, I must admit that I believe it does mean, we act without being violent!
The future may hold more protests, more disagreements, and more unrest. The question is, what will drive your anger? Will it be revenge? Will it be to make a name for yourself and have five minutes of fame? Will it be offense, racism, or hate? What will drive your anger in the weeks, months, and years to come? As believers, it must be love! The love of God, for all things godly! The love of God for the people of God!
After we have sought His counsel as to how we are to express that anger, our hearts can be right before Him. The next time you are angry over injustice, or something that is unrighteous, know that you can have righteous anger, and be without sin. Wonderful Jesus!