What makes Jesus angry?

January 14, 2011

John 2: 13-17

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

The money changers and the cattle and dove sellers were opportunists, overcharging on their products.  Money changers in the temple courts were not there as a public service; their exchange rates were criminal.  People had to have animals for sacrifice, and most people brought their own.  These were often rejected as “not suitable for sacrifice.”  So the people had to but a new animal, at an inflated price.  If they tried to sell their “defective” animal thy were given a bad deal on that too.  Oh, and you had to pay the temple tax in temple currency, so you had to exchange your “foreign” money for the temple coins; forget about a decent exchange rate.

Do you kind of get an idea why Jesus was angry?

Often times we use this passage to “argue” against selling anything in a church building, but that is really giving the wrong picture.  If we are offering things as a service, such as a bookstore, it is often much more convenient than going to a bookstore.  And as long as we are in a drive through society we might as well offer the kind of things people can get at Starbucks or Timmy Ho’s.  This is not what angered Jesus.

Taking advantage of people, now that ticks him off.  Whether it is using guilt to recruit, or guilt to tithe.  Serving is biblical, we need to serve; tithing is biblical we need to tithe, we don’t have to guilt people into it.  I remember when I was a kid, one year the church published what everyone in the church gave.  My dad almost changed churches.

There are places in church to challenge people, to stretch them, to prod even.  But that kind of pressure should be concerning spiritual growth and discipleship, not helping the church meet its goals.

I don’t know if that is the whole lesson we are to learn from this story.  I think I’ll read it again.  But I know that what angers Jesus should anger us as well.  I think this situation was about justice, and the lack thereof often demonstrated by “the church.”   I think God’s words,  “To obey is better than sacrifice.” probably fit in here as well.

I’m going to contemplate this story a bit more and invite you to do the same.  From this passage (John 2:13-17) what is it that make Jesus angry?  What makes him sad?  What should the church do about it? What should we as followers of Jesus do about it?

Respond if you like.

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