In Ephesians 4:26 we are commanded, “Be angry and sin not.” If you really were honest with yourself, can you ever think of a time when you were angry, and did not sin in your heart? Personally I don’t think I can.
So, what is righteous anger? And how often have we justified our behavior under the guise of “righteous anger.”
The Passage: John 2:12-22
After the wedding in Cana, Jesus and his 5 disciples, along with his mother and brothers went to Capernaum. Capernaum was the home of Andrew and Peter. So, they probably stayed with Peter or Andrew for the time they were there. After some days with Peter and Andrew, it was time to make the journey to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.
According to the law, it was expected of all faithful Jews, three times a year, to celebrate festivals in Jerusalem (Exodus 23:14; 2Chronicles 8:13) Passoever was the largest and most attended because, according to Jewish traditions, God demanded that all males appear in Jerusalem to celebrate.
Jesus, being a devout Jew would have gone to Jerusalem every year since he was 12, to celebrate. And every year, he would have witnessed the chaos and “circus” that the high priest Annas and his family had made of the feast. They had “set up shop” in the “court of the gentiles.” Buying and selling sacrificial animals, exchanging money, and receiving the temple tax. The “court of the gentiles” was the only place in the Temple complex where Gentiles were welcome to come and worship. But, due to the business ventures happening, finding peace and solitude for worship was almost impossible. Their pursuit of wealth was hindering people from seeking God.
It was now time for Jesus to make Himself public. He had told his mother at the wedding, “My hour has not come.” It was now that hour. Jesus knew that from this time on, life for Him would not be the same. Once He did this, there was no turning back.
As Jesus enters the court of the gentiles, I think Ken Gire’s description of how he pictures this scene is pretty good, “
“Jesus’ nostrils flare. His jaws clench. Draped across a table is a handful of tethers. He snatches them up and ties them together. His face flushes. The veins in his neck protrude. His heart is a pounding fist. He pulls the knot tight.
When he cracks the whip a circle of men recoil, confusion mapped in every wrinkle and contour of their faces. Jesus kicks over a table, sending two of them tumbling backward, their money skipping along the marble floor. He pulls down a makeshift fence, and another smack of his whip sends a dozen lambs bleating for cover. He goes down the row, picking up the ends of tables and heaving them over.
He whirls his whip overhead, then strikes with a crack of leather. Men scatter like leaves before this whirlwind of a man as the wrath of heaven funnels down to earth, upending everything in its path.
Jesus storms through a tenement slum of bird cages with a hail of words for the man guarding them. “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”Ken Gire- Moments with the Savior
Those who were profiting from the “worship” of the Passover, demand an explanation. They clearly understood Jesus was exercising the authority that only the Messiah had. But, they refused to believe He really was the Messiah. So, they demanded to see his credentials. They didn’t question what he had done. They didn’t questioned that the temple needed to be purified. They didn’t questioned that the temple had been perverted from its intended use. No one questioned that those who sat at the moneychangers’ tables and those who sold animals were motivated by selfish greed. They did not challenge what He had done but did question His authority to do what He did.
Jesus responded with a “cryptic” message that they didn’t understand. “Destroy this temple and I will rebuilt it in 3 days.” Jesus was talking about his own body, giving a prophecy of his death. But, they thought he was talking about the actual temple. Even his disciples didn’t understand this reference until after he rose from the dead.
As I ask these questions of myself, I encourage you to ask them too.
What was God doing? Why did He have this written down?)
Jesus is the perfect representation of God on earth. He is the living, breathing, acting Word of God! So, when God is angry, how does He act?
- God has never and will never sin in His anger.
- God’s anger is ALWAYS self controlled (controlled by God).
- Gods anger will ONLY display or manifest fruits of the Spirit, fruits of God-Likeness!
So, what does that look like? How did Jesus act in the temple?
- Jesus focused on God’s name: He could no longer standby and allow the selfish greed of a few people hinder others from seeking God’s name.
- Jesus focused on God’s rights: Jesus was not defending his own “rights.” He was focused on what God wanted. God had promised to Solomon that anyone who came to the temple and sought God, and anyone who prayed toward the temple, that God would hear and grant their request. (1 Kings 8:22-52)
- Jesus focused on God’s kingdom: These men were pursuing their own kingdom, their wealth and status. Jesus was not focused on any of those things. He was focused on doing the will of His Father and revealing God on earth. (John 1:18)
- Jesus was self controlled… not out of control. Jesus was in everything and in every way, controlled by the Spirit.
What can I learn from this? What is God saying to me and my life from this passage?
Jesus was so focused on revealing His father that when he witnessed what was going on in the temple, and how those religious leaders were hindering people from being able to seek His Father, and commune with His Father, He had to do something about it. He was zealous for God’s name consumed Him! Zeal for God’s righteousness, Godly characteristics, Godliness, should be what motivates us in our relationships with others too.
- What do I need become more aware of?
What in my life distracts people from seeing and seeking God? Am I like the religious leaders, so focused on the requirements of the law that I hinder people from seeking God? I am not the Holy Spirit. I am a channel to connect them to the Holy Spirit.
Am I focused on being God’s instrument and being available for God Himself to do His work through me, or am I pursuing my own agenda?
- How does God want me to engage with this? What does He want me to do because of what He is saying here?
In everything I do, I need to be asking these 3 questions:
- “How does this enhance God’s image and promote God’s name?”
- “Am I pursuing my “rights” or am I pursuing what God wants?”
- “How will this serve to advance God’s kingdom?”
- Did I attract people to Jesus or did I distract them from seeing the true image of Christ by what I did or said today?
The Power; Declarations of Truth:
The power to change is in the implementation. We can talk all we want, make lots of plans, but until we do something about it, we will never change. What is the one thing I need to do as a result of this study today?
At the end of each day, I need to take time to “debrief” the day and consider how I did with these 4 questions.