BY STEVE DUNN
Part 2 of Series
Reflecting on Holy Week
After the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on what is now called Palm Sunday, Jesus probably returned to Bethany for the night. But bright and early the next day he was headed back into the city–into the heart of the city–the Temple. Being an observant Jew, it was an appropriate thing to do for he was joining thousands of pilgrims who were converging on that city to prepare for the Passover.
A little background here. Entering the Temple, Jesus saw the money changers, along with merchants who were selling animals for sacrifice. Pilgrims carried coins from their hometowns, most bearing the images of Roman emperors or Greek gods, which Temple authorities considered idolatrous. To protect the sanctity of the Temple, the high priest ordered that only Tyrian shekels would be accepted for the annual half-shekel Temple tax because they contained a higher percentage of silver, so the money changers exchanged unacceptable coins for these shekels.
In such situations, the lure of greed had taken hold and many the money-changers were exacting a huge profit by manipulating those exchange rates. Those were often more than the Law allowed. Even the High Priest took a cut from the exchange, all at the expense of earnest worshippers.
The sight of all this was more than Jesus could stomach. In righteous anger he made a scourge (a whip) and kicking over the tables Jesus began to drive these thieves out of the Temple precincts.
Make no mistake. Jesus was angry. In his righteous anger Jesus quotes the words of Isaiah. Isaiah 56:7: “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:13, ESV)
People are fond of pointing out this story, emphasizing the outrage and even painting it as uncontrollable on Jesus’ part. Generally they are doing it to justify their own anger issues. But James reminds us that this is not an acceptable interpretation.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” – James 1.19-20
Righteous anger, godly anger, is not something out of control. It is a controlled response growing from possessing a deep love for God first and then for our neighbor. Our anger grows from the reality of sins powerfully destructive impact on the people we are called to love and for whom Christ died.
Please note–Jesus only kicked over the tables once.
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