The Day Jesus Went to Church and Got Mad

Bible Book: John  2 : 12-25
Subject: Church; Christian Living; Jesus, Anger of
Introduction

I expect every Christian has seen someone angry at church, and if you have been a church member for several decades, I'm sure you have. Have you ever thought about Jesus coming to church and being angry? Well, it is something to consider and it is serious. I want to share something of a devotional with you on this Sunday night, so I’m going to talk to you about an issue in the church. This message is directed at God’s people and it is a significant issue for us to contemplate.

Turn to John 2:12-25 and note these words:

"Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” 18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” 19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said. 23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. 24 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, 25 and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.”

 

After the miracle in Cana, Jesus went home to His mother's house for a final visit of any length. He may have wanted to share a few days with her before he left for what he knew would end thirty-six months later at the cross. Perhaps his brothers tried to dissuade Him from the ministry He was to carry out - after all, at one point they did think Him mentally unsound. Again, it may be that He spent a few days in prayer as He received complete and final directions from the Heavenly Father before leaving for Jerusalem.

After the time in Cana, Jesus left for Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. There were three religious festivals which male Jews were expected to attend. One of these was Passover and the day Jesus arrived in Jerusalem there must have been an awesome crowd there to fulfill their duty to God. Historians tell us that as many as two million Jews crowded into Jerusalem on these special religious days.

Something happened while Jesus was there that made Him extremely angry. That seems a bit strange, doesn't it? We think of anger as a sin, yet Jesus never sinned, so His anger was certainly justified. But, again, most people picture Jesus as being passive and far too loving to act in anger.

We had best look into this matter and see what it means. First, we must not change the nature of this incident and teach that Jesus wasn’t really angry, nor can we dare assume that His anger was something personal and, therefore, a flaw in His nature. Neither of those assumptions would be accurate..

Just before we look at His anger let’s make sure we get a clear picture of the entire story surrounding the occasion. When Jesus arrived at the Temple complex, he noticed that the Gentile Court was filled with money-changers and merchants selling animals for sacrifice. As the Lord looked upon this scene, He became angry and took a whip, spun it in the air, causing a confusion that sent money flying across the stones of the outer court of the Temple in Jerusalem. We also see that some of the Temple officials came running to see what was happening and observed Jesus standing there with the whip in His hand and the white, hot anger still in His eyes. One of the moneychangers or animal owners surely pointed to Jesus and said, "Arrest him. He drove our animals out and turned over our money tables. But worse than that he spoke blasphemy! He called this Temple "His" father's house!”

How did this matter occur – what caused it? Christ made His way to the Temple but He had hardly gotten to the parameters before the sight before Him disturbed Him greatly. There before Him in the outer court, which was the Gentile Court, he saw a sight that stirred Him to His innermost being. Jesus saw hundreds of animals, with all their sounds and smells, with salesmen barking out advertisements concerning the quality of their animals. When the Jews offered sacrifices it was imperative that the sacrifices were spotless and pure, and this meant there was a market for animals at the Temple door. The prices were high, the lines long and the pressure great to present a quality sacrifice at the Temple. The salesmen took advantage of the situation. Furthermore, the moneychangers, who exchanged all foreign currencies for the shekels which were required as a Temple tax for all male Jews, charged exorbitant rates - rates that were indecent, unfair and actually ungodly.

When Jesus saw what was happening, He became angry – very angry! In fact, the wording of the text indicates that he was "consumed" with anger, which means that He was incensed and filled with holy rage. When the disciples saw this happening, they were reminded of the passage from Psalm 69:9, "Zeal for your house will consume me." The word consume means to "burn up." You have probably used the phrase, "That just burns me up!" in your own conversation. Well, what Jesus saw that day provoked Him to exasperation.

The eyes of Jesus flashed with anger, so reaching down he picked up some cords which the animal owners had around for making animal whips. He twisted them into a whip and moved quickly into the middle of the blasphemous hubbub and whirled the whip above His head and threw it forward, stopping it suddenly, which produced a tremendous cracking sound. White hot anger filled His facial expression. As the whip cracked, the entire court area was transfixed, every eye turned to Him and time seemed frozen for just a moment. Then he lunged forward, cracking the whip as He went and He shouted, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's House into a market (a den of thieves)!"  Suddenly the animals bolted and the moneychangers and animal handlers jumped. The tables were turned over and foreign coins, shekels and weighing devices went flying through the air! As the animals scurried away, the moneychangers cowered in corners and Christ stood whip in hand as the Master of the House of God! It was a strange sight, but a real one. Jesus had gone to church and what He saw made Him mad.

Perhaps even in those tense moments they felt they had met a man of great authority, for they asked the question, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?" In other words, "Let’s see the credentials that authorizes you to do what you have just done."  Or, put in our own vernacular, "Okay, friend, you had better have a good explanation for what you just did."

Jesus spoke words which astounded His hearers and dumfounded, at least for a while, His own disciples.  He said, "Destroy this Temple and I will raise it again in three days." The onlookers were aghast at that statement. It had taken forty-six years just to get the Temple to its present condition, a point which they made to him. How then could he possibly think He could rebuild it in three days! Was this man insane? Oh no! Jesus was speaking of His death on the cross and the resurrection of His body from the grave. The hearers didn't understand that day at the Temple, but they would understand, or at least some of them would understand, three years later!

Many who stood by were thrilled by what they saw. Paying for overpriced animals had long angered them. Having to give the moneychangers two days wages for a coin which was worth one hours work just to pay the Temple tax had "burned them up" for ages. They practically cheered as Jesus stood-down the Temple officials. But the Bible says that Jesus did not give Himself to people that liked what he had done, for He knew what was in them. He knew their thinking was not based on faith in Him as Savior but simply as someone who had made them feel they had gained a brief victory over some some unfair and cruel people.

The incident was over, but the meaning must be described. Let’s look at what all this means to people like you and me, after all I don't think we want Jesus to come to our church this morning and be angry with us. And don't think He has stopped coming to church. Read Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, and note that the resurrected Savior visited seven churches - not all of which pleased HIm. In fact, one of those churches made Him sick on His stomach, so it is not beyond reason that one of His churches today could still make Him sick and angry.

What, exactly made Christ so angry that day in Jerusalem? Surely He saw much that disappointed Him in His day. Sin was rampant. Over half the world was in slavery to the other half. Occupying forces held sway over the land God had promised to Abraham. But, why did this particular trip to the Temple "consume" our Lord?

Look at one reason why Christ as so angry that day...

I. Christ became Angry when He Saw the Cross Covered up in Religious Ritual or Tradition

The Passover celebration was to help God’s people remember the blood of the Lamb that delivered His people out of Egypt. That Lamb was a symbol of Christ and we know that beyond any doubt.

Look at John 1:29, which reads, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John the Baptist knew that Jesus was the Lamb that was to free all who believed from their bondage to sin.

In 1 Corinthians 5:7 we read, “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” Paul knew that Jesus was the Lamb of God for our Passover!

Again, read 1 Peter 1:18, which states, “...knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Peter knew full well that Jesus was the promised Lamb for our salvation.

Jesus became angry because the people had covered up the meaning of the event. It symbolized the perfect Lamb God would provide and they had lost sight of that - in fact, they had covered not only their own eyes but the eyes of others as well. Sure, the people at the Temple that day had no idea that Jesus was the Lamb of God, but they should have known that it was irreverent and unholy to turn something so precious as the blood sacrifice for sin into flea market atmosphere!

In Matthew 16:23 we note that Jesus said to Simon Peter, “…Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Jesus was angry with Peter because Simon misunderstood the cross and sought to stand in the way of Jesus fulfilling the Father’s will by dying on the cross!

Jesus was angry because He saw the profit motivate standing in the way of people coming to worship. He was mad because personal advancement was placed above the souls of the people who came to worship the Lord. Listen folks - listen church - we must be careful not to place any personal preference in the way of people getting to the Savior. Often churches, sometimes we as ministers, or officers in the congregation, have a desire which is based on personal predilection, inclination or fondness, and that becomes so important that it causes strife or hinders the purposes of the Lord. Such things can cause church fights, eat up budget money that ought be used for reaching souls, or stand in the way of change that is needed for the church to take the gospel to the community in which it exists. Most churches are having a difficult time in this generation reaching people with the gospel. Could it be that the wall we face in reaching the lost today is one which we have built ourselves? Is Jesus angry at your church? It is a question worth asking.

But, let's look at the second and last thing related to the anger of Jesus in the incident at the Temple...

II. Christ became Angry when the Way for Sinners to Come to God was Blocked by Religious People

Look at Matthew 23:13, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” We note here that Jesus spoke plainly about those whose actions stand in the way of people getting to God. Interestingly, the day Jesus came to the Temple and took the whip in hand, He was in the Gentile Court. This was the outer court reserved for Gentiles, for they were not allowed to go any further. In any words, the people had turned the only place some people could use for fellowship with and worship of God into a market place. Jesus was furious, and rightfully so!

Now, note Matthew 23:15, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” Whoa! What an amazing statement. Jesus was saying that the actions of the religious leaders and people who held positions of authority were causing converts to act just like themselves – they were teaching them to exclude others who needed the Lord from getting to Him.

The Gentile Court had been turned into a zoo, a market, a bazaar and a sham. Jesus was furious. The Gentile Court was the only place in the Temple area that the Gentiles could enter. It was, to Christ, an act on the part of the merchants and religious leaders to block Gentiles from coming to God

Friend, if you wish to make Jesus angry, do things that block people from getting to God. God's people ought to take this very seriously. Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and we are working against Him if we do things that prohibit that work from taking place at His House and through His Spirit.

Conclusion

In closing, think of three things we need to learn from this event in the life of our Lord.

1. Never think of yourself as better than others

You see, once we are saved and in the kingdom of God, we can begin to think of ourselves as better than those in the world. The fact is that we are not saved because we are better, but were redeemed because we had faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and admitted that we were not worthy of salvation or heaven. Sure, we must uphold the Word of God and any prohibition it declares, but we must never do so in arrogance or self-righteousness. Our desire must be to see every person come to faith in Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus alone can change a life! It is possible that the Temple leaders became so arrogant in the day of Jesus that they took no thought for what they were doing in the Gentile Court. As Christians, as especially those of us who are leaders, we must humble ourselves and ask if there are ways we can better carry out the mission God has given us.

2. Always work to help people find their way to Christ

Sometimes our life inside the church becomes all about us. We are comfortable and we don’t want anything to discomfort us. Yet, God’s work of reaching the world will always call for sacrifice. Jesus said, “Come, follow me.” At that point He did not lead His disciples to a picnic but took them to the cross!

3. Never get over what Jesus did for you and always lift up the cross of the Lord.

Pointing people to Jesus is our duty and joy, but it is important to always remember that knowing Jesus is not about turning over a new leaf but finding a new life. Our activities within the church can deter us from actually doing God’s will. How So? It is easy to get so busy with church activity that we forget the lost world around us. It is God's will for us to take the gospel across the street and across the seas!

In Revelation 2:4-5 we read:

“Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant,
And Israel whom I have chosen.
Thus says the Lord who made you
And formed you from the womb, who will help you:
‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant;
And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
And floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And My blessing on your offspring;“Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant,
And Israel whom I have chosen.
2 Thus says the Lord who made you
And formed you from the womb, who will help you:
‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant;
And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
3 For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
And floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And My blessing on your offspring;

 

If Jesus came to our church today, would He be angry or pleased? Well, let me assure you that He is present at His church today - this very moment. He said where two or more gathered in His name that He would be present. He is here. Let us make a new commitment today to serve Him by helping people come to Him. We can stop right now and pray, asking God to show us areas where we may have become complacent and even served as a deterent to someone coming to know Christ. These areas might just be a kind of "Gentile Court" where we are hindering people from finding their way to Jesus. Certainly we don't desire to do that, but it does happen and requires that we take stock of our walk wtih Christ, especially our actions and attitudes at His House - the Church of our Lord.

Let's not wait for the crack of the whip, but let's bow before Him and ask that He direct us always and ever to be the Christians and the church that He intends!