Summary: While Jesus was indeed gentle and kind, He also took a bold stand against sin. In fact, when confronting evil dressed in the garb of religion, His formidable anger took many by surprise. He sharply rebuked the religious leaders in Israel for turning their
The Gathering Storm
Sermon Series: Jesus: The Greatest Life of All
From the Bible-Teaching Ministry of Charles R. Swindoll
While Jesus was indeed gentle and kind, He also took a bold stand against sin. In fact, when confronting evil dressed in the garb of religion, His formidable anger took many by surprise. He sharply rebuked the religious leaders in Israel for turning their privileged status into an opportunity to gain wealth and power. And from the example of Jesus, we learn how to stand up for the truth, even as we lose popularity and suffer persecution for doing what is right.
Very often, people portray Jesus as the meek and mild teacher who taught His followers to love others as themselves, to avoid retaliation by turning the other cheek, to pursue peace, and to avoid judging others. While Jesus did indeed possess these qualities and teach these values, the picture is incomplete. These passages reveal that Jesus was more than the pale, languid figure often portrayed in art, on television, and in movies.
2. The Enemies of Jesus Cared More about Pleasing Others Than Living by the
Many centuries before the earthly ministry of Jesus, the Jewish people were conquered by the Babylonians and carried off to Babylon as slaves. With their temple destroyed and their homeland colonized by other cultures, the Jews looked to the Law of Moses to sustain their national identity and to maintain their distinctiveness as God’s chosen people.
In order to help them apply the Law to everyday life in their new and unfamiliar home, teachers of the Hebrew Scriptures wrote very careful, specific instructions for the people to follow. However, what began as a practical aid for Jews became a sacred tradition that took on a life of its own.
The body of sacred traditions developed by “the elders” eventually supplanted the very Law it was intended to uphold. And by the time of Jesus, failure to observe tradition was regarded as disobedience to the Law of God. Furthermore, this manmade religiosity became the means by which many Pharisees maintained the illusion of moral superiority over others. Ironically, their religious zeal put them at odds with God. Not only were they motivated by a lust for power, their traditions often violated the very Law they supposedly cherished.
During the time of Jesus’s earthly ministry, worship in the Jerusalem temple had become big business for religious leaders. The chief priests refused to accept any currency except shekels minted in Israel. Money changers within the temple precincts gladly exchanged any currency for Jewish shekels at an inflated rate and then pocketed the difference. Furthermore, the Law of Moses stated that any animal offered to God had to be flawless; only the best would do. So the men running the temple would inspect the animals brought for sacrifice, ostensibly to verify that the offerings were worthy.