Posts Tagged ‘Jesus gets angry’

Cleaning House

June 16, 2009

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 2:12-16.

The place where this market was located happened to be in the Court of the Gentiles, an area cordoned off for those converts to Judaism from other nations.  They were not allowed in the Jewish section of the temple by law until the third generation, so the Jewish leaders took advantage of this and exploited their vulnerability.  Jesus considered desecration of even this area as disrespect to God, contrary to popular opinion.  For a long time I didn’t grasp the significance of why He used the quote “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (see Mark 11:17b) until I realized where the leaders set the market for all the sacrifices up.  The very word “gentile” means broadly “nations” so Jesus used Scripture to set the whole temple aside for worship not just the area for the Jews.

Jesus actions protected people’s right to worship in peace.  Another thing I struggled for years to reconcile was Jesus’ violence here because I couldn’t accept violent behavior and peace as coming from the same place.

But it did and does.

Jesus stood up for coming to God in worship with a vehemence few accept today as really in His nature, but John A states it clearly that He drove the marketing strategy out of the temple courts.  The kingdom of heaven could not be, nor would it ever be in Jesus’ view, a marketing ploy, an excuse for the already rich to scrape some more profit off the backs of the poor for the word “sanctuary” is used in many ways but its primary meaning is to protect.

Jesus came to protect not only the Name of God, His Father, butalso the His body—those who believe in Him.  He came to represent the God and creator of all–basically Himself.  Jesus refused to be pacifistic about the worship of God so He made a whip out of ropes and declared war on greedy racketeers who profitted off of people’s desperate need for grace, peace, forgiveness and mercy.

What a futile act of war.  The market was probably set back up and running the very next day or day after that.  What, in heaven’s name, did Jesus accomplish through this futility? 

He made His point.  And sometimes that’s all we can do.

The temple represented Jesus Himself.  What did He say to those who challenged Him? “Destroy this temple…” and John A makes it clear He was speaking of His own body. The leaders were making the worship of God a means to grow wealthy.  Jesus made it clear that’s not what the temple was for at all, so He cleaned it out for one day so that those who came to worship might experience a moment of peace.  Now we know through the teachings of the disciples that we are His body, which begs the question:  What does He say about us as His body through this act of violence?

Jesus won’t put up with anyone poluting His people for long.  There will come a time for cleansing and restoration, and since we are His temple, this means the true worshipers of God will be cleared of stuff that distracts from coming to God.

The leaders wanted blood.  They wanted to know just who this Jesus thought He was, when they were the religious authority here and He a mere Rabbi peasant, born out of wedlock and not even educated by them.

Jesus gave them metaphor as an answer.  They, in all their learning, intelligence and authority, missed His point entirely and took Him literally.  The disciples misunderstood too, though at least they would have come to a different conclusion.  Their experience at Cana showed Jesus able to perform miracles so they had no doubt He could destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, still they all missed the point.  Jesus spoke about Himself, His own body.  The true temple, of which the building merely worked as a model, was Jesus’ body, for Revelation says, “I saw no temple in that place (the New Jerusalem) for God and the Lamb are its temple.”

Jesus knew even then how He would die and what that entailed.  He needed to make a point which was:  My body should not be used for profit but rather worship.  I am not to be used to make money or extort from people, I am free to all who come to me in repentence (a word in the Greek which means a “change of mind” or to ” change the direction of one’s view”).

The disciples didn’t understand until for later, for John says, “After He was raised from the dead, His disciples recalled what He had said.  Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.”  Remember the only “Scriptures” in John’s day were the OT law and prophets.  The NT hadn’t been established yet.

The Jews demanded a miraculous sign, but they didn’t get the one they wanted–I think they hoping for Elijah to bring fire down from heaven to prove God the true way to heathen priests.  The people who beleived, however, did get miraculous signs.  Why the disparity here?  Why would the common man get the miracles and the leaders who could have helped Jesus so much in His mission got nothing?

Both parties saw the same miracles because later it says the leaders had Jesus watched constantly to trip Him up.  This says something very important about man’s attitude:  we see and believe exactly what we want to see and believe.  If something doesn’t fit our preference, we will ignore it and find ways around it.  I’ve done it for years and when confronted, sidestepped the issues.  Truth, however, won’t let us sidestep it without some form of spiritual fragmentation bordering on insanity happening.

When we trust in human reasoning, values and agendas, we lose sight of the real and vital.  When give ourselves over to the temporary goals of the world around us, no amount of explaining the Word Made Flesh will bring comprehension to a mind darkened in this way.  So the last two verses have become a point of growth for me:

But Jesus would not entrust Himself to them, for He knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for He knew what was in man.  John 2:24, 25.

I tend to trust man’s view a little too much.  Proverbs says, Fear of man will prove to be a snare… We cannot use man’s reasoning to get to God because man’s reasoning extracts God from daily life and viewpoint.  We must seek this same quality Jesus displayed by letting go of man’s opinion whether positive or negative in order to understand the truth about ourselves and the world around us through the filter of the Word of God.

Jesus didn’t trust man’s opinion about Him in His mission.  Just because people believed in Him didn’t mean they had it right.  A person can believe in God in a loose way but still reject everything God stands for, it’s just not enough to believe God exists.  James addresses this by saying, Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.  Belief about something is not enough we must take that belief into our daily life and let it change us.  We cannot and do not change God for He must change us.  Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  God even says, “I am the LORD and I don’t change!”   Even sincere, intense or devout belief isn’t enough always, for a person can be intense about believing lies, devout to their own agenda, sincere about complete nonsense.

We conform to Him not He to us.  He doesn’t need out simple, distorted views about Him to be what He will be anyway–God.  Jesus is the savior of the world whether people believe it or not; accept it or not; conform to it or not.  We can be part of the testimony or party to those who try to destroy it or shape it to what they want it to be.

The leaders of Israel crucified the Son of God because He wouldn’t play their game or conform to their way of being religious.  They hated God in Jesus because He showed them how very shallow their view of life was and how lost they were without God’s way.

A few years ago I came to a decision, after a long time of wandering around the philosophical landscape:  Jesus is right. 

Human beings might have elements of truth, a form of godliness, be good hearted, generous, kind, gentle and host of other attributes that make people great, but without Jesus, they really had nothing but a temporary life.  God still might choose to save them in the end–and I believe many will be–but their life down here would lack the wholeness Jesus promised those who truly believe in Him and acted on it.  We can’t trust their viewpoints on things eternal because everything they tell us leads us to profit in merely the here and now.  We enter eternity the moment we accept Christ as Savior and Lord over our lives.  Everything we do must conform to this eternal thinking.  Our temporary choices must be made in light of living with Jesus for ever after.  Nothing comes close to this viewpoint in importance, but everything we do in our daily life reflects it and is affected by it.

I have never seen anyone love another human more deeply being than a person who leaves all for Jesus.

Jesus didn’t need man to tell Him who He was, justify His mission or character because He already knew the truth and it set Him free from the opinions and wishy-washy views of public scrutiny.  To conform to Christ we must follow Him here where the world–even the religious world–gains no hold over us.  Only Jesus holds us in His arms of love, protection and the armor of the Spirit.

Man’s opinion without conformity to God, is an exercise in futility.  Because of this, I must admit I am not really interested in living a meaningless life or continue stuck in futile thinking or living.

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When Jesus Gets Angry, pt 2

November 15, 2008

When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them,  “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone.”  Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.  Jesus straightened up and asked her,  “Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,”  she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,”  Jesus declared.  “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  John 8:7-11.

Notice that Jesus didn’t get angry with the mob of Jews trying to trap Him into condemning the woman.  The Pharisees knew they couldn’t condemn even a prostitute to death without the express permission of the Romans, so their question of Jesus was a test, nothing more.

Notice something about this story and others like in Scripture:  Jesus didn’t condemn her though she was an obvious “sinner” and had been caught doing it.  There was no anger for her sin, no weighty, vitriolic or pious sermons to guilt her into changing her ways.  Only quietness, patience and mercy extended through a grace incomprehensible to her day and age.  Not only does Jesus not condemn the woman, but He gives her permission to leave her life of sin.

I guess my thought here is best said simply:  Jesus doesn’t get angry at sinners for being sinful.  He gets angry at His servants for polluting His message, mishandling what they already know to be true and using His grace as a means to wealth.  If someone is getting rich off the gospel, they should beware of their motives and what they do with that wealth, for they know the Scriptures which say that the one who teaches the Word of truth will be held to higher standard and called to account.

If we look at all the “condemnation” prophecies and judgmental sermons in the Bible, most aim the arrows of conviction and guilt at those who should know better (and probably do) but are unreprentent and taking advantage of the gifts God has given to embezzle from others for their own gain.

But there is nowhere a condemnation of the fallen, by Jesus.  His is a message of grace, forgiveness and new life for those who want it.

When Jesus Gets Angry

November 12, 2008

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.