Jesus Is Angry

A reading for Tuesday, February 24, 2015: John 2:13-22.

Jesus is angry. There is no other way to explain what happens in the temple with the money changers and the tables of those that sell sacrifice to the people. Jesus makes a whip from cords, and literally drives out those that are there. He flips the tables over and pours out the coins they have gathered. Yes, Jesus is angry.

What is Jesus so upset about? Sacrifice was not new to the temple. For generations, these tables have been there selling small animals and birds to pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem for passover and other festivals. Such was the way of worship in the ancient world. The priests would take such and make amends with God for those that came. What's wrong with that?

When the disciples watch what Jesus is doing, they recall Psalm 69“Zeal for your house will consume me.” Take a moment and read this Psalm of David in which the Psalmist too is angry. In Psalm 69, which is a Psalm of lament, the problem is that no compassion is being offered by God's people for those that suffer. "I looked for pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink."

Perhaps it is foreshadowing for the fate that Jesus would endure in the crucifixion, but it is also more than that. The moneychangers had a system they had created and asked God to bless it. It was a system, not about what God was doing in offering peace and justice for others, but instead a system that was about them. It was a system that exploited the poor and the suffering for the gain of a few. People used their last resources sometimes to purchase sacrifice, in order to be offered peace with God. The people suffered while the moneychangers became wealthy. Jesus cannot stand by and allow this in the house of God. This was a problem.

We too set up systems sometimes that are about our needs, our comfort, and even our wealth, and then ask God to bless it. Even in the church, instead of seeking what God is doing and aligning ourselves, we seek our own way and expect God to say yes. Perhaps we say, "Yes, but we aren't using sacrifice to exploit others." But when there is so much need for the peace and reconciliation of God in so many people of our world, we waste our time and our resources going after our own way. Our mission is not about us, our membership, our budgets, our way of doing things. Our mission is God's mission. Again from Psalm 69:

"For the Lord hears the needy, and does not despise his own that are in bonds.

Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them.

For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah; and his servants shall live there and possess it;

the children of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall live in it."

Jesus, in the midst of your passion for the mission of God, may we know what we are to do. Even when you are angry...


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