By Alan Ahlgrim
Toleration is the trademark of our time. Teachers are expected to tolerate the disrespect of their students. Parents are even expected to tolerate the disobedience of their children. Everyone is supposed to tolerate the immorality of the popular culture.
Jesus contradicted his culture with an open expression of intolerance. At the beginning of his public ministry the righteous indignation of Jesus was on open display. He wasn’t exactly subtle when he used a whip to make his point and kicked the offenders out of the temple courts.
The Direct Approach
Nothing like the direct approach! This wasn’t a fit of temper from Jesus. This was focused anger over the blatant desecration of God’s house. When the practice of religion had merely become an opportunity for selfish gain, Jesus intervened. That would have been something to see. The traders were scrambling, coins were scattering, tables were flying, and everyone was noting that Jesus was furious!
Have you ever seen someone who was truly furious over misconduct? Maybe it was a parent, a teacher, or a coach. If you’ve ever witnessed that, even if the leader was furious with someone else, you know it was a sobering experience for others who watched. Everyone was put on notice that certain things would simply not be tolerated.
After Jesus cleansed the temple courts, everyone took notice. At the outset of his ministry it was clear that Jesus was not a passive and endlessly tolerant leader. They knew that he could become more than upset; he could even rattle the tables with anger!
Might Jesus Ever Get Angry With Us?
These days we’re accustomed to hearing a lot about the grace of God and the acceptance of Jesus. That’s an important and thoroughly biblical theme, but so is the anger of God over our sin. Here we see that Jesus takes the insincerity and abuse of worship seriously. It makes me wonder what he thinks of me when I sometimes just go through the motions. Might I ever give the Lord reason to be angry?
Alan Ahlgrim is the lead minister at Rocky Mountain Christian Church in Longmont, Colorado.