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Summary: Why did Jesus get so angry in the temple when legal trading of animals was necessary as part of the ceremony. Look for the anger which resulted from the corruption hidden in the name of God.

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Title: Can we contain our anger, or should we?

Word Count: 1546

Tabs: Lent 3, Anger, Rage, Corruption

Exodus 20:1-17 Psalm 19 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 John 2:13-22

Summary: Why did Jesus get so angry in the temple when legal trading of animals was necessary as part of the ceremony. Look for the anger which resulted from the corruption hidden in the name of God.

This sermon was delivered to the congregation in St Oswald’s,

in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 11th March 2012.

(A Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).

Prayer: In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit let these words speak for you, and bless each and every one of us as pray these words speak for you. Amen.

Introduction

Anger, rage, and belligerence are not the normal words we associate with Jesus; yet that is what we read in today’s gospel.

Christians are not supposed to get angry, (or so the non Christian say), yet Jesus got into so much a rage that he turned over the tables in the temple and worse. So we must ask, why did Jesus do this? And why do we even have this story the bible?

To make a start, we need to recognise that this story is not just in John gospel, it is also in Matthew, Mark, and Luke gospel; so straight away we must acknowledge that it is important.

The story takes place in the temple and ends with a cryptic statement about destroying and rebuilding a temple; and in the story Jesus gets angry about his father’s house being made a marketplace where a few “religious racketeers” were making money from genuine worshipers.

What were they doing that that was so awful? Well it couldn’t have been the marketing of the animals or exchanging money, because they had to do that as part of the preparation for the ceremony; as not everyone had animals. So a sort of market grew where people could buy animals; animals that were suitable for sacrifice as described in the Old Testament.

This is understandable, and generally accepted, along with the money which was exchanged because normal coinage had an engraved image on it, and image of the emperor, so some sort of exchange service was required. They simply exchanged their Roman coins for Tyrian coins.

What was not acceptable was the corruption, corruption which was particularly nasty when tied into religion. For example; advantage was taken by manipulating scripture; implying things like “if you do not buy this perfect animal, (at my price), then God will not accept it nor bless you”.

And I will give you a further example; have you heard someone saying something like, “you should not swear”, them forgetting about the argument they had with their partner on the way to church; and that swearing, still on their mind; twisted and used to condemn you, or at least to put you down.

Not that swearing is correct but it is context which it was said in, a context to make you feel bad; because what they were saying is that if you do not do this, if you do not do what I am telling you, then God will not bless you. Can you see the manipulation, the logic and evilness behind it? In engineering terms we call it the “if - then - else – logic”.

A sort of example is this; “if you stand on one leg, and with one hand in your pocket, and the other hand in the air shouting Hallelujah then God will bless you, else (and this bit is always implied) he will not bless you, i.e. he will curse you. Can you see how this can be abused, and used as a put down?

When I hear “you should” in a sentence; I treat it with the contempt it deserves. I have found the Pentecostals are particularly bad for this, always imposing something on you; and it gets me angry and sorry for the rant, but this kind of talk is not of God.

I am not getting at anybody here, so don’t look into it, but I hear this kind of talk regularly; and it is wrong; and it stops people coming to church, and it detracts from what the New Testament where God says he will love and bless us because of Jesus … and because of nothing else.

That’s what is being said today, so can you imagine what it was like all those years ago, and you can understand why Jesus was very angry; particularly at a few who were abusing the house of the Lord to line their pockets by exhorting money from genuine worshipers.

They used the same logic I described earlier, the “if then else”, logic; if you buy this sheep or goat which is presentable at my prices, then God will bless you, else God will not bless you. And I have no doubt there would be a violent tone of intimidation in their voice. A wealthy few therefore made a killing; all in the name of religion.

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