What we saw in the Temple was not a weak man’s anger. A weak man defends the faith by getting angry in the face of a challenge, which is not what happened in the Temple. What we saw was Jesus’ zealous anger for His God. Those guys were selling things, in the Temple! Jesus made it clear: a temple is not a place to make money.
This story has always interested me. Obviously this wasn’t the first time that people were selling things in the Temple. I don’t believe for a minute that Jesus didn’t know about it. I think He’d seen it happening for 33 years, basically His whole life. So why did He react that day, and not before?
I think it’s because the Holy Spirit had come upon Him. He finally had authority to drive out the merchants and money changers. I believe that is why He walked into the Temple that day and said, “Enough! This is not a place for this. This is a house of prayer, not a house of sales. I’m not going to let you make money off these people.” I think that was a zealous thing. That was passion. Jesus wanted people to know how great the Temple was, and how special it was. So he cleared it. It was righteous anger. Justice anger.
The anger Jesus showed that day is the same anger I have when I see injustice take place. When it comes to human trafficking, I can get very angry, and it’s my passion that I’m expressing. Trafficking isn’t right, and I want so much to make it right. It’s my passion to make it right.
There are times when you need what they call “righteous anger.” If I had a chance to storm into a nail salon and free the women being held captive there, I’d do it. That wouldn’t be a time for calm debate. I wouldn’t stop to share the Gospel with the traffickers. I would only say, “What you’re doing to human beings, to all of us, is bad. It’s not okay.” And I would not go into that salon in a way that most people would call “love.” My actions would show love for the women, obviously, but not for the people holding them captive. I wouldn’t be nice. Love isn’t always “nice.”
Jesus made things right in the Temple, and it wasn’t necessarily “nice.” I think that’s what He’s showing us. There is a time and a place for anger. When it comes to dealing with the human heart, you have to do it in love. But when it comes to dealing with a crime against humanity, anger is going to come out. It’s not anger in the sense of hate. It’s the anger that Jesus had when He cleared the Temple.
Think about it. When Jesus was getting whipped and beaten and mocked, He could have reacted in anger. No one would blame Him. He could have pulled Himself off the cross, and no one would blame Him for that either, even if He came down blazing with righteous anger. But that isn’t what He did. He let them crucify Him, and He just looked up to heaven and said, “Father forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” Why did Jesus stay calm? He didn’t get angry because His crucifixion was not about a crime against humanity. It was an issue of the heart, and He was on that cross for a reason. He was there to bring justice.
Sometimes Christians don’t know how distinguish the times that call for righteous anger from the times that call us to create justice through love. We need the Holy Spirit to step in and show us, so we have to ask the Holy Spirit what we’re supposed to do.
See you Monday.