Summary: Being angry is not a sin. It is what we do with our anger that really matters.
“Time to Clean House”
When I was attending college and seminary I always looked forward to the beginning of a new semester. Regardless of what mistakes I may have made the previous semester, I could now start fresh. It’d probably the same way for you. The Bible teaches us that our God is the God of a 2nd chance and a 3rd and a 4th when necessary. On the positive side that seems to be what Jesus was doing when He turned the tables over in the Temple. He was giving those who had disgraced the temple a 2nd chance. Like spring after a long winter we welcome a fresh start. ------------ but then on the negative side, There is also an expression that is sometimes used in large corporations when it becomes necessary to fire; to dismiss a large number of employees. It’s called cleaning house. They then also have the opportunity to start fresh. Jesus wanted them to understand that He would not tolerate his temple being used for anything other than the purpose for whom it was built. On either level we all need them from time to time. It is an easy thing in this passage to see the passion of Jesus. And it is not the only time when we see the emotions of Jesus coming to center stage.
When Mary and Martha’s brother, Lazarus was sick, they sent word to Jesus asking Him to come and heal Lazarus. But the Bible says that when he heard these words that he stayed where he was for two more days. When he arrived he learned that Lazarus had already been dead for 4 days. When Jesus heard those words we find the shortest verse in all of the Bible. Jesus wept. His friend was gone and it brought him to tears. But this is a different emotion we see here. There is only one way to describe His passion on this particular day….Jesus was angry. All of us have been there before. Something stirs us up, our emotions flare up and suddenly our anger spews out. But we need to get hold of an important truth here.
Being angry is not a sin.
It is what we do with our anger that really matters.
We know that Jesus was without sin. He was perfect. Yet we see Him in this story as He takes several leather cords and fashions a whip out of them, driving the money changers out of the temple, including their animals. He then scattered the coins of the money changers and then he turned over the tables. His passion took over for a simple reason. The temple was being used for the wrong purpose. This was not so much about the buying and selling that was taking place, it was about how it was being done.
It was the time of the Passover which meant that the Jews who were faithful headed to Jerusalem to celebrate. So Jesus went but when He got there things were not as they should be. You will remember that in the OT, God required the Jews to celebrate the Passover as a way to remind how God had delivered them out of Egypt. You will remember that in the days of Moses God sent a series of plagues to convince Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go. But Pharaoh was stubborn. God had sent 9 plagues and still no response. Locusts, a plague where the Nile river was turned to blood but they still would not listen. So now he sent the final plague, a 10th one. God sent a messenger to kill the firstborn son of each family in Egypt BUT as God always does, He also offered a way out for them. To preserve the life of their first born they would need to kill a sacrificial lamb and apply the blood of the lamb to the door post. When the messenger would see the blood then he would pass over the house and the child would be spared. Pharaoh was finally convinced so he released the people. On that day God told the Israelites that they must remember what God had done for them and they were to remember it in in this way…they were to sacrifice/kill an innocent lamb and then enjoy the meal as a family. They were also told that (if possible) they were to go to Jerusalem to do this. So this is why Jesus and His family were there.
I want you to imagine with me if you will, what they saw when they got there. The Jews had greatly multiplied by this time so hundreds of thousands of Jews would have flooded the city. Like a national convention. Like the Olympics had come to town. And all of that attention and the size of the crowd meant one thing. Money. The economic impact was huge. The merchants would clearly make a lot of money.