Summary: If we are honest most of us get angry, is that right or wrong? This message looks at how to determine that.
Not what we would expect at all. We are closing in on the final act of the gospels and Jesus has come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, the greatest of all the Jewish feasts. On Sunday he arrived in Bethany and from there he rode a donkey into Jerusalem fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah. The crowds had flocked out to see him and waving palm branches, laying their coats before the donkey and singing his praises. It was a great day. That evening we are told that after he had visited the temple that he returns to Bethany, which is just outside of the city and then on Monday he makes his way back to the city and back to the temple.
And it is there he freaks out. There are merchants in the temple courts selling animals for sacrifices and exchanging money so people from away will have the right currency to pay their temple tax. It is a carnival atmosphere. And it is like Jesus snaps. He was like a madman, tipping over tables, chasing animals, speaking in harsh tones. Jesus was angry, angry! And maybe some of you are thinking, “well maybe he was a little upset but I don’t think he was angry.”
Nope, a little upset doesn’t tip over tables and chase animals, he was angry.
It is so out of character. Or at least out of the character that we hold so near and dear. This isn’t the picture that comes to mind when most people think of Jesus. They see him holding a lamb or holding a child, feeding the hungry or healing the sick. They see his hands as gentle and caring. I’m sure that in most people’s minds they would expect the hands of Jesus to be soft and tender and not the hands of a carpenter, who worked without the benefit of power tools.
And while that has to be a part of the picture of Jesus is it the entire picture? Most of us have a home page for our internet browsers mine is Canoe.ca Goes way back to when most of the news sites were American and Canoe came along and they had bill boards up that said “Don’t surf the net canoe it.” But that is a different story for a different time. Part of the canoe site is a photo of the day and it shows a snippet of a photo in a box and it is remarkable sometimes when you click on the photo and it expands and it isn’t anything like you thought it would be.
It is the same picture but you aren’t seeing the entire picture. And sometimes we are guilty of doing that with God and Jesus. We are only seeing a part of his character and are basing our assumptions about him on that one part of the picture.
And so for some people Jesus is only gentle and caring, he never raises his voice and never gets angry. True, they see him as the good shepherd but a shepherd who only cuddles and coddles his sheep and never disciplines them and never corrects them and would never ever raise his voice in dealing with them. He is a non-judging, non-demanding, non-condemning and he lets the sheep do whatever it is the sheep want to do, and never says “You are a bad sheep”.
He is a Jesus who was always understanding, always accommodating and never correcting and certainly never condemning. And so while we can see this Jesus as opening up a dialogue with those in the temple who were selling animals and changing money and perhaps coming to a meeting of the minds we find it really difficult to get our heads around this scene that is described in detail in all four of the gospels.
It is the day after the triumphant entry, the day after Palm Sunday and it is only four days away from Jesus eventual arrest, trial and crucifixion. After his grand entrance the day before we are told that Jesus had returned to Bethany, where he spent the night. Now Jesus has returned to Jerusalem and makes a bee line for the temple which is where our story picks up.
But before we look at the story let’s look at the back story.
The temple that is spoken of is Solomon’s Temple; it had been an integral of Jerusalem for more than five hundred years since it was built by King Solomon, David’s son until it was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. Understand that we don’t have anything in Canada that was built 500 years old.
The temple occupied the top of the top of Mount Zion; it covered an area of almost 30 acres and contained several distinct areas. Let’s pull up some pictures. Here is where the temple sat in relation to the city of Jerusalem during Jesus ministry, as you can see it dominates the entire city, that site is now occupied by the Dome of the Rock Mosque. Here is what it would look like if it was built out of lego and here is a replica that you can see in Norfolk Virginia, It was constructed over a thirty year period by Alec Garrard, which was 23 years longer than it took to build the original.