A Facebook meme reads,
“When asking what would Jesus do? Remember turning over tables and throwing a whip around are all within the realm of possibilities.”
I don’t know if the person who wrote that meant to be funny or not but they make a very valid point. Many times when people ask what would Jesus do? They are suggesting we just take the path of least resistance, but that was not always Jesus’ way. It is not a sin to be angry.
“Be angry, and do not sin”: Ephesians 4:26 NKJV
This verse tells us we can be angry and not sin. Did Jesus ever express anger? Yes He did. Besides turning tables over in the temple, He became angry when the people refused to extend mercy to a man who needed healing on the Sabbath.
And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Mark 3:5 NKJV
When Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers in Mark 11:15-18 it was not because they were selling items inside the church. I remember as a child listening to someone complain about the Heritage Singers selling their albums in the church lobby. They took Mark 11 to mean that we should not sell things in the church, but that was not what Jesus was angry about. Jesus tells us what made Him angry.
Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? Mark 11:17 NKJV
The Jewish leaders had instructed the people that at Jerusalem they were to be taught to worship God. Here during the Passover week large numbers assembled, coming from all parts of Palestine, and even from distant lands….
The dealers demanded exorbitant prices for the animals sold, and they shared their profits with the priests and rulers, who thus enriched themselves at the expense of the people….
The worshipers had been taught to believe that if they did not offer sacrifice, the blessing of God would not rest on their children or their lands. Thus a high price for the animals could be secured; for after coming so far, the people would not return to their homes without performing the act of devotion for which they had come. The priests and rulers were called to be the representatives of God to the nation; they should have corrected the abuses of the temple court. They should have given to the people an example of integrity and compassion. Instead of studying their own profit, they should have considered the situation and needs of the worshipers, and should have been ready to assist those who were not able to buy the required sacrifices. But this they did not do. Avarice had hardened their hearts. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Pages 154-157
The problem wasn’t buying and selling in the temple. It was doing it in a way that was not friendly to those who came from distant lands, and those who had little money. They did not care that God’s house was to be a house of prayer for all nations, and not just the greedy money changers and priests.
So, when we see Jesus angry it is most always when someone is not being treating with mercy. Jesus is not passive when He sees others being abused, and He does not expect us to be either. Jesus definitely does not take a passive approach to child abuse.
It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Luke 17:2 NKJV
Sounds like a threat to me! From Jesus! You know, Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek when we ourselves are mistreated, but Jesus never told anyone to turn the other cheek when a child or their aging parent is being mistreated. Many God-fearing Christians will turn the other cheek if you hurt them, but if you hurt their family that is a different story!
Just this morning, I was reading in John 11 about the resurrection of Lazarus, when I came to this passage,
When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him,[f] and he was deeply troubled. John 11:33 NLT
I wondered why Jesus would have such a deep anger in this situation? I checked the commentaries, and one suggested that Jesus was angry with the way some of them were so hypocritical in their mourning, especially seeing how many of them would turn around right after Lazarus’ resurrection and plot Lazarus’ death!
Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, John 12:10 NLT
John 11 goes on to tell that many at the resurrection ran to report what had happened in a way that showed they were not happy with the outcome, revealing they only pretended to be mourning about his death.
So what makes Jesus angry? lack of compassion and hypocrisy. Let’s ask Jesus to give us true compassion for others.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.