The Reading: Matthew 21:12-13
“… Jesus … drove out …” (v.12) RSV
Anger is one of the Christian virtues! Not of course selfish, uncontrolled and destructive anger, but anger against injustice and corruption. Anger and love are two sides of the same coin. Love does not stand by and do nothing when the poor or innocent are downtrodden.
Now exactly how that anger is expressed and to whom it is addressed is very important. Jesus went into the Temple and dealt face to face with the perpetrators of the problem. He did not rant on to his disciples about it or go and sneak to Pilate. He simply took a comparatively non-violent weapon (a whip of cords – John 2:15), and also took his righteous tongue. He lashed with whip and words.
This was a highly charged protest. Jesus was incensed with the way that the Temple had been commandeered by racketeers and profiteers so that the ordinary person in the street, far from being able to worship and pray, was being fleeced. “My (Father’s) house shall be called a house of prayer (Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11); but you make it a den of robbers.” The anger of our Lord was focused and purposeful. Whether it was effective or not is not recorded. I doubt if it made any long term difference but it was effective as a prophetic message.
We have been told to be witnesses and prophets whether people listen or not. More often than not the Church is ignored. Isaiah was ignored and so was Jeremiah. But as Ezekiel was told (Ezekiel 3:18) if he did not speak up then the guilt of those whom he had not warned would be on his head. It is our duty to live in such a way that our lives are not only beautiful but also a (silent) rebuke.
Lord, forgive me when I melt into the background like a chameleon. Help me not to be ashamed of Jesus and his Gospel. Help me to stand up for the truth. Amen.
1 Did Jeremiah find it easy to speak up for God?
2 Was Isaiah’s ministry successful in his lifetime?