And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. – Mark 11:15-18
Imagine, if you will, that you’ve been on the road for a while. Maybe you and your family have been on vacation. Maybe you were away for business. You pull up in front of your house, relieved to be home. But when you walk through your door, you realize something is out of place. Something is just not quite right. And that’s when you notice it.
There are strangers in your living room. They’ve made themselves at home. They’ve left a mess all over your floor. They’ve got their feet propped up on your tables. And you’re pretty sure they’ve ruined that beautiful area rug that your mother-in-law gave you for Christmas. How would you feel in that moment?
Upset? Violated? Angry?
How must Jesus have felt, walking into the temple, His Father’s house, finding the people and the things that he found. How must His feelings have been compounded, seeing the temple in the condition it was in. Does the word “angry” cover what the Lord must have been feeling?
When I was working as a counselor, I would tell my young clients to be careful with their feelings of anger. Not because there was anything wrong with feeling angry, but because the anger they felt could lead to inappropriate reactions that could cause them trouble with their teachers or the school’s administration.
The anger that Jesus felt upon walking into the temple was nowhere near a wrong feeling. As the Son of God, He had every right to become angry. His feeling was closer to one of righteous indignation.
Of all the people in the temple that day… no… of all the people in the temple EVER, Jesus was the One who had the authority to act in the way He did. He had the authority to drive out the crooked money-changers and the greedy pigeon dealers. But the powers that be did not see Him as the authority that He was.
No, those chief priests and scribes saw themselves as the authority. How dare this Nazarene carpenter walk into their holy city, into their temple, and act as if He owned the place?
How many of Jesus’ disciples would have been shrinking back a bit as Jesus overturned tables and drove salesmen out with a whip? How many of them would have felt like giving the kind of advice that I used to find myself giving to elementary school kids when they got angry in class? “It’s okay to get angry, just be careful how you act in your anger. You don’t want to get into trouble.”
Would you want to be the one to say something like that to Jesus? “Be careful…” But Jesus knew what He was doing. He wasn’t out of control. He knew what was coming, even if His closest friends were still clueless, mere days from His crucifixion.
Jesus stepped into the temple and knew what He needed to do. He was unconcerned with the consequences of His actions. In fact, He was most likely even aware that his actions would alarm those who were already looking for excuses to have Him killed. But it didn’t stop Him from doing what was right.
As we make our way through this Passion week, ask yourself these questions:
- Is there something in your life that you feel God is asking you to do that you’ve been putting off?
- What’s holding you back? Is it fear of others’ reactions?
- How can we, like Jesus, clean house, making sure that our focus is on the Father?