When Jesus Gets Angry

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  In the temple courts He found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.  So He made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.  To those who sold doves He said,  “Get these out of here!  How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”  John 2:13-16.

You gotta’ wonder if Jesus just snapped.  I mean, this stuff of the money changers and animals in the court of the Gentiles had been going on for years, so He had to know about it.  It would seem logical to assume that He’d witnessed it since His childhood, so what was different now?  Well, partly, I believe Jesus announced His mission, authority and established place in Jewish society by making His declaration.  He was known around the country as a miracle worker and teacher, so with that street cred, He had some power to throw around and used it to clean up and clear up some misunderstandings the leaders had about worship.

Did it do any good?

No, these guys just brought their stuff back in after Jesus left.  I’m not saying Jesus’ actions were an empty gesture, but that He didn’t expect there to be a great change.  He knew the mind of mankind intimately and held no illusions about them, so I’m sure He wasn’t surprised when things didn’t change.  On the other hand, His move declared God’s displeasure with the state of Israel at the time.

The temple represented more than just a place for people to come and worship, it was a symbol of the heart.  Four major chambers for worship and purging one’s soul.  Two brought people in to confess and bring their lives for cleansing, two purified them and presented their requests to God then sent them out with renewed life.  So Jesus’ anger wasn’t just about a place but symbolic of His attitude about us.  He doesn’t want our hearts being sold to the highest bidder or up for sale at all.

We as the body of Christ are His temple, as is every single human heart an individual dwelling place for the Lord’s presence.

It appears from John’s account compared to the other gospels that Jesus may have actually done this twice.  Once at the beginning of His ministry as recorded in John and once again toward the end just before His death right after the triumphal entry.  Of course, it could also be that John wasn’t as concerned with linear time so that His record is more about making whatever point He wanted to emphasize rather than following a timeline.  But, if it’s true that Jesus did this twice, it shows how utterly hard hearted those who were supposed to protect God’s glory had become.  They went right back to their desecration ignoring even the rebuke of the Scripture Jesus flung at them while He was chasing people out.

The temple should be used for God’s business not noisy, greedy, extortionists who use the gospel for their own ends.  Jesus drove out the money changers but kept the children later after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, who were probably making just as much noise.  Which says something about Him, wouldn’t you say?

There are only a couple of examples where Jesus is recorded getting angry, this is one and the other is when He healed a man with a withered hand (see Mark 3:5).  In the case of the withered hand guy Jesus was about to heal him, yet those who stood against Him were worried more about their traditions than a man who’s physical condition limited his life.  They witnessed a healing, the hand became whole, then went straight out and plotted how to kill Jesus.  Do you see the irony?  If they needed any better proof of Jesus’ authority, they couldn’t have asked for it.  Yet they remained stubborn, stiff-necked and closed minded to who He showed Himself to be.  Mark says,  Jesus looked around in anger…deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts.

Can you imagine the frustration?  Here He’s about to do what had never been done up to that time and still they refused to even acknowledge Him.  They hated Him for calling them on the temple desecration (a thing the law forbade anyway, though they created loopholes for that too) and then hated Him because He cured a man on the Sabbath.  Here’s where we have to take stock of ourselves as well.  When we care more about our own welfare (the wealth garnered at the money changers’ tables and animals sold in the temple) than we do God’s glory, we are in danger of choosing tradition and our own concerns over truth.  When we are more concerned with our own definition of righteousness than God’s simple explanation, we show that we don’t respect Him as sovereign.  Jesus is the boss.

If John 1 is correct, then Jesus gave the laws, created the world and is the one to interpret what they meant.  So the Pharisees and leaders wanting to kill Him is just plain rebellion against their God.  Many an atheist would accept Jesus if they saw the miracles day after day that the disciples and leaders of Israel saw; many an agnostic would be convinced and know His claims were true if they witnessed even one of the many things Jesus did.  The fact that these people fought Him tooth and nail says something about us in general–not just them.

We want what we want and nothing, even the truth, is gonna’ stand in our way.  How do I know this?

Jesus was crucified and died because He simply stood for a more compassionate life.  John 15:25,  “But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law:  ‘They hated me without reason.’ “

I don’t think Jesus gets angry at unbelief that is uninformed or hasn’t seen the clear truth yet.  I believe He is distressed and angry when a person can see it clear as day yet still rejects it.  I mean, come on, doesn’t it bug us all when someone stubbornly refuses to accept reality in favor of their ignorance?

We only have a few examples of Jesus getting angry, but the ones we have speak volumes about what distresses Him to the point anger.  Funny, it’s never directed at a person who knows they’re a sinner and seeks forgiveness.

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2 Responses to “When Jesus Gets Angry”

  1. Diapaison Says:

    re the anger of Jesus. Where in the Gospels is the reference in the Gospel to Jesus being angered by the EVIL which afflicted the illperson (not the ill person himself)? I haven’t been able to find it. I accept Jesus was angered by the attitudes of people (eg the moiney changers in the temple) but this is different. Any help?

    • jonnysoundsketch2 Says:

      Mark 3:5 states that Jesus was angry and deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts. Stubbornness in the Scriptures is considered evil, not just bad, but wicked. Hardness of heart is considered the same thing. Proverbs 29:1 says–A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed–without remedy.

      There’s a reason for God’s wrath. It’s not arbitrary or eclectic, rather it’s very specific and for stubbornness beyond evidence. The Pharisees and Leaders of Israel had ample evidence of the divinity of Jesus, for they plotted to destroy His best miracle by killing Lazarus as well, so they were without excuse and were broken beyond remedy. God’s wrath or anger is not mindless fury, though, like humans, it is controlled and purposed.

      I hope this answers the question–or at least, sets you on the path to discovery.

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