Good and Angry

Read: Matthew 21

Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the moneychangers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!” (Matthew 21:12-13)

Jesus angry—so much so that he literally tossed a few people out of the church!  Now that image may totally blow the picture you have of the Lord as the “Gentle Shepherd”. I hope so! There were times that Jesus was good and angry—and not to be so would have been un-God like.

To be sure, Jesus loved people, and that love especially came through in his compassion for the poor, widows and orphans, the sick and infirmed, and those who were held captive to sin by Satan. He was a man of love and peace who called people to a lifestyle of love and peace. But Jesus was no pushover. He had a large capacity for anger—righteous indignation—as we see here in this encounter with the moneychangers at the temple. Jesus didn’t go around picking fights, but when he saw injustice, it really ticked him off.

What pushed his button in particular was seeing how religious authorities would turn what should have been the worship of God into a way to manipulate people for their own purposes. It bothered him a great deal when spiritual directors stood in the way of the kindness of God reaching people in need, and when religious systems abused and enslaved people instead of ushering them into the abundance of God.

J. I. Packer, in his book, Your Father Loves You, writes of the many times Jesus’ anger flared at this sort of thing:

Jesus went into the synagogue on the Sabbath and saw a man with a crippled hand. He knew that the Pharisees were watching to see what he would do, and he felt angry that they were only out to put him in the wrong. They did not care a scrap for the handicapped man, nor did they want to see the power and love of God brought to bear on him. There were other instances where Jesus showed anger or sternness. He “sternly charged” the leper whom he had healed not to tell anyone about it (Mark 1:43) because he foresaw the problems of being pursued by a huge crowd of thoughtless people who were interested only in seeing miracles and not in his teaching. But the leper disobeyed and so made things very hard for Jesus. Jesus showed anger again when the disciples tried to send away the mothers and their children (Mark 10:13-16). He was indignant and distressed at the way the disciples were thwarting his loving purposes and giving the impression that he did not have time for ordinary people. He showed anger once more when he drove “out those who sold and those who bought in the temple” (Mark 11:15-17). God’s house of prayer was being made into a den of thieves and God was not being glorified—hence Jesus’ angry words and deeds. Commenting on this, Warfield wrote: “A man who cannot be angry, cannot be merciful.” The person who cannot be angry at things which thwart God’s purposes and God’s love toward people is living too far away from his fellow men ever to feel anything positive towards them. Finally, at Lazarus’ grave Jesus showed not just sympathy and deep distress for the mourners (John 11:33-35), but also a sense of angry outrage at the monstrosity of death in God’s world. This is the meaning of “deeply moved” in John 11:38.

Any form of spiritual manipulation, control, abuse or neglect that prevents the goodness of God from reaching people, no matter what form it takes, or who is perpetrating it, doesn’t make Jesus very happy. Not then…and not now.

Religious leaders, televangelists, youth directors, or anyone who has spiritual influence over others, and uses that influence for their own financial gain, to gain name recognition, for sexual gratification, to feed their own hunger for power, or who deliberately prevent God’s abundance from reaching his children will sooner or later have to stand before a righteous Jesus.  And as we just saw, the real Jesus is perfectly capable of anger. One day there will be an accounting for the mismanagement of spiritual authority—and it won’t be pretty.

Jesus, the Gentle Shepherd, the Prince of Peace, got good and angry over a few things. Maybe it is high time Christ followers got a little fed up with sin as well.

So if it is called for, go ahead and get angry. Just make sure you are good—literally—and angry.

“Anger is a divinely implanted emotion. Closely allied to our instinct for right, it is designed to be used for constructive spiritual purposes. The person who cannot feel anger at evil is a person who lacks enthusiasm for good. If you cannot hate wrong, it’s very questionable whether you really love righteousness.” ~David Seamands

What If God Took Over?

If God had total control of your life, you would be able to get angry in the right way for the right reasons at the right time.  What are the things that make you angry?  If they don’t meet that standard, then you are expressing destructive anger.  Repent of it and, if you need to, get some help (from a friend, pastor, accountability partner, mental healthy professional) in learning to manage it.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

One thought on “Good and Angry

  1. How often did people attempt to draw Jesus into their own personal disputes? Even though we are given only a few examples of this in the Gospels, I imagine it was an almost daily occurrence. They wanted righteous indignation from him, but his response was always the same. He sounded disappointed in plaintiff's own response to the wrongs they had suffered, as if they had somehow missed the point of his ministry: forgiveness as a means to reconcile with God.
    While hardness of hearts did grieve him, nothing drew indignation from him than the placing of stumbling blocks in the people's relationship with God by religious leaders.
    In the case of merchants in the temple, the rule was "what the market will bear." The principle customers were travelers. And the religious leaders were not about to allow just anyone in to set up shop. There was a price to pay for that, which would be passed on to the consumer. That mattered little, as they could set their own prices for the hapless visitors, who could not enter empty-handed. There was much profit to be had. So everyone involved were indeed thieves. They prayed upon the weak, and they did so in the HOUSE OF GOD! What kind of an example were they setting? How could Jesus not be angry?