What comes to mind when you think of anger? Often, we associate it negatively, as something to avoid. With good reason, you should avoid anger when expressed in a non-productive way. Of course, we are humans and we don’t handle every situation perfectly, so anger is expressed inappropriately often, hence the negative association.
I have a friend that recounted a story on Facebook with a picture of 4 broken eggs on the ground. Apparently, her son tried to make eggs for lunch and dropped a few. The mom had found it humorous, but I quickly reflected, that myself and most parents, would have responded “are you kidding me!!!” Just the other day, we were heading to a swim meet and we were going to make it with a minute to spare. I got a call that my son had left his goggles at home and I needed to turn around. I was angry and we ended up making only the last few seconds of the warm up time. It was a mistake and although I was angry, I kept my mouth shut. I had the right to be frustrated and angry but I didn’t have the right to start yelling and making my son feel terrible. Responsibility is what I’m trying to teach here not for him to incorrectly reflect –“I’m an idiot!”
Jesus expresses His anger in the Temple in Jerusalem. The temple was supposed to be the source of how to worship God but it was broken. John the Baptist, the son of the high priest, Zechariah was not preaching in the temple, but out in the wilderness because the temple was dirty and damaged with corruption. Jesus comes to clean the house, which had become a common market, selling goods. Jesus turns over the tables, spills the money and drives everyone out.
“He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves, he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” Jn 2:15-16
I’d like to reflect that the sight of one man driving out a whole marketplace with just a whip must have been a sight!
Jesus was not wrong to be angry at the sight. The temple is where we worship and gain a deeper relationship with God, not where we go to buy goods. Would you be able to pray and spend quiet time with the Lord in His Church if you were surrounded by shop keepers yelling and chickens flying around? Not many could, but the point is, the market in the temple was blocking worship, keeping us away from the source of love and light. God wants a relationship with you for your sake and He is justified in His anger. Note that during this exchange, Jesus doesn’t strike anyone down and there’s no mention that in His uncontrolled rage, He throws things around. Rather, He drives them out. He makes it so the temple can be a place of worship.
When Jesus gets done, he explains to all that He will soon lay down His life. “Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” Jn 2:19 The ultimate act of love is being referenced here, that Jesus, for all of our sin and to conquer death, He will subject Himself to torture and death on a cross. After driving out the market, His offer is one of love.
Jesus uses His anger to accomplish a point and doesn’t sin while angry. He fixes an issue; He is perfectly justified and He seeks to redeem those who were sinning. Jesus loves those He is angry with here.
Whenever we talk about forgiveness, anger and love, one must always remind oneself, that loving your enemies shouldn’t come at a cost for health and wellbeing. If someone shoots your friend, don’t invite the murder over for tea the next morning (try and come to terms with the issue, ease your broken heart and forgive…from a safe distance).
When you find yourself angry, ask, are you justified? Are you seeking to correct out of love? After the fact, have you accomplished the goals?
Easier said then done, but with God’s Grace, we can persevere. God Bless!