Tuesday, March 26, 2013

An Angry Jesus

On Monday of Holy Week we remember the day when Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem and got angry. Yes even Jesus felt that very human emotion of anger. It was a righteous indignation that aroused this anger and prompted Jesus to take an unusual action.

When people came from distant lands to visit the Temple during Passover they needed two things in order to worship: an animal to sacrifice and temple money. According to the laws found in Leviticus the sacrifice had to be perfect with out blemish. Each animal was inspected by a priest to be sure it was acceptable. If it wasn't perfect you had to go find one that was and make an exchange. Off duty Levites on the Temple mount itself and even in the temple had pre-approved exchange animals that you could have for a price. Perhaps the cost was too much of a price above the fair market value. Perhaps a disapprove sacrifice one day might be on sale the next as pre-approved.

Because you could not make an offering with money that had the face of a human on it the Jews minted coins without a human image on them and it was referred to as "Temple Money." If you got to the temple with foreign coins you needed to exchange them. At the money changing tables you could change your foreign coins for Temple coins.  The exchange rate could be very high high. 

Many worshipers felt that they were being cheated right there in the temple. So when Jesus over turned the tables scatting coins and animals he was most likely cheered by people wishing they could do the same thing. In the Gospel according to Mark Jesus said, "It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations but you have made it a den of robbers."

Righteous indignation became anger and Jesus drove them out of the temple.


  1. Larry, think of all that's involved in this story! Jesus was able to do this but why? Why wasn't He arrested and thrown in the hoosegow? Was it because those on the scene were aware of something within Him that made them hesitate?

    How much frustration had grown over the temple process that bystanders didn't try and stop Him?

    Was He also making a statement about purity and sanctity within the holy of holies? Was it as much a political statement about the purity restrictions as it was a religious statement about keeping people from God?

    This really is one of my favorite New Testament stories.

  2. My friend burstmode it is one of my favorite stories too and as a preacher it makes me cringe a bit for what often goes on in church buildings.

    I think he was not arrested because the crowd there was tired of being ripped off by the off duty Levites selling sacrificial animals and exchanging money at userous prices. The people were likely cheering Jesus on.

    He was most defiantly making a statement about purity of the temple. Remember too that Jesus was recognized on sight as a Rabbi and that caries weight.

    When they did come to arrest Jesus it was in the middle of the night when most people were sleeping.

  3. You're right, Larry. What goes on in some churches should make people cringe. Perhaps that's why the new Pope seems so refreshing.

    This is one of those stories that can be discussed for a long time.