Our Bible study this year recalls the details of the days leading up to the trial, death and resurrection of Jesus. In meditating upon His sacrifice for us in this “thoughtful hour”, we pray that you will sense your connection with all of heaven. Feel free to post your thoughts and reactions to things you have read and experienced in the study, #messagemag. Above all, it is our prayer that you get to know Jesus and experience His life-changing power for yourself.
I loved watching the popular television show, “The Incredible Hulk.” The mild mannered Dr. David Banner has a condition that causes him to change into a huge, menacing, green, rampaging character—the Hulk. The Hulk would then go about righting wrongs and dishing out vigilante justice.
One line Banner would use to caution people who took his calm demeanor as a license to take advantage of him was, “You don’t want to make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry.”
As I read Matthew 21:12, I see a different side of Jesus than the one we are accustomed to seeing. The verse says: “Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.”
This is not the “gentle Jesus meek and mild” that some of us recited in our prayers as children. This Jesus is turning over tables and chasing people out, and breaking up stuff. Tables flying everywhere. People clearing out. This is not a polite display of asking permission. Jesus acts first and talks later.
This Jesus seems angry. Why?
The reason Jesus seems angry is because Jesus is angry. I know the picture we sometimes cling to is that of the Savior who was void of human emotions, such as anger. This passage indicates that there is nothing wrong with anger; Jesus was angry. There is nothing wrong with being angry about the right things, and in the right way.
So what was Jesus angry about? Well we do not have to guess. He tells us in verse 13: “And He said to them, ‘It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ” Jesus quoted a popular verse that day from Isaiah 56:7 with which they were familiar. He said, essentially, you have taken this place that was intended for one thing and turned it into another. A place that should have been a house of prayer has become a den of thieves.
In a poignant and powerful symbol to address sin, God established a system that required the sacrifice of an animal. For those who did not have such an animal, well, they were conveniently sold on the premises. And, as with any system that is created, we human beings have the potential to corrupt it and use it for our benefit.
Recognizing they had a captive audience, the animal brokers by the temple gate jacked up the prices. Because of this, poorer folks could not afford to buy the animals so they were kept away from the temple. They were kept away from the house of God. They were kept away from the place where the grace of God was being ministered.
Isaiah 56:7, 8, the passage Jesus cited, helps us see the power of what made Him so angry.
“Even them I will bring to My holy mountain,
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
Will be accepted on My altar;
For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says,
‘Yet I will gather to him
Others besides those who are gathered to him.”
The word that sticks out is all! God’s house was to be a house of prayer, and it was to be for all people. No one was to be excluded because of anything they did not have or even their ethnic group or disabilities. And Jesus got angry because people were being denied access to God. I think He still gets angry when people are denied access to God because of socio-economic reasons or their disabilities, or even their hang-ups and issues.
Jesus was so angry about what was happening in the temple that day that He did something about it. He cleared out the system standing in the way. And the next verses show the results. It says “Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.”
Wait, Jesus just flexes his muscle and throws His weight around and the blind and lame come to Him? They are not afraid of Him? Even the children sing Hosanna in the temple and are drawn to Him. They are joyful because finally they had access to the temple to be able to connect with God in a way that they could not before. And they loved this Jesus who got angry, because He did something about the things that kept them away from God.
I am glad that Jesus saw another system keeping us away from God. It was one that we brought on ourselves as humans. One called sin. And He came down to earth and did something about it. He took it on, head on. He took it on and destroyed the system that kept us out from the grace of God. But it cost Him His life to do it.
Today Jesus will not let anything or anyone keep you away from Him. Anything that tries to, He gets angry about it and does something about it. And you will love Him for it.
KYMONE HINDS, his wife, and their three energetic children live in Memphis, Tennessee. He pastors the Overton Park and Journey Fellowship Seventh-day Adventist churches. He also speaks and blogs regularly on different life issues. You can connect with Kymone via twitter@kymonehinds, or on his blog at comejourney.org.
TOO GOOD FOR GOD
What does Jesus want out of our relationship with Him? Love? Commitment? Service? I’m sure you have wondered if your relationship with Jesus is what it should and could be. Do I pray and have devotion enough? Am I in my Bible the way I should be? We’ve all had those questions. I wish to submit to you that unknowingly we are trying to be too good for God.
Many of us know what it’s like to have someone smile in our face one moment only to stab us in the back the next. What do you think is going through Jesus’ mind as He is entering into Jerusalem? We want to know your thoughts here at Message. Share on Social Media using the #MessageMag.
Have you ever experienced God do something that didn’t make sense. Why would Jesus curse the fig tree that was out of season? What has God allowed to happen to you that you have felt has been out of season? Share it with us on social media using the #MessageMag.
Notice that the Bible says the fig tree was in leaf. When a fig tree is in leaf it is supposed to have fruit. Therefore this fig tree looked like it was being fruitful but was just putting on a show. Is it possible to look like you have everything together and really be nothing but show? Do you know anyone like that? Are you like that? Don’t share it with us. In your time with God I invite you to pray about the places in your life that may just be show.
There is another side to the coin. Some people see it as disruptive when other people go after God in the way they feel inspired to. This is how Simon responded. Because the woman went to Jesus in a way in which he and others did not approve, he spoke condescendingly about her. Be honest now: Can you think of a time when you were being a Pharisee, looking down on someone for something you did not like? Share it with us using the #messagemag.
In preparation for the next section I invite you to listen to “Intercession” by Kirk Franklin. Allow your mind to drift to your need for Christ.
Jesus seems to be out of character in this portion of the Bible. Irate and enraged is the Lamb of God who is usually meek and mild. What caused Him to act this way? If we pay close attention to the personality of Jesus, nothing sets Him off more than people being mistreated. The church had gotten so bad that the place used to connect with God is now being used to take people’s money and resources. The thing is, aren’t we supposed to help people connect with God, but sometimes we drain or get drained by people who were supposed to help us get closer to Him? Have you experienced this? Tell us about it on social media using the #MessageMag
I once thought the stories of the fig tree and Jesus flipping tables were disconnected. But when I took into account the detail of the tree having withered from the roots I realized Jesus was being very intentional with His perceived discontent. God is turned off by those who act like they’re connected when they are nothing but show. The fig tree didn’t have fruit because the roots weren’t connected to anything of substance. Jesus kicked the people out the temple because they were hindering connection to God. Take time to evaluate your connection to God and if your life facilitates other people making connection to God.
Jesus is simply emphasizing prayer. Some of us are so focused on acting right and behaving correctly that we neglect our connection to God that truly makes us productive. Let us be mindful and prayerful that we don’t focus on acting so good that we are too good for God and the people He’s truly trying to connect with.
Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Shiloh Seventh-day
Adventist Church in Ozark, Alabama. He also pastors the Mt. Olive Seventh-day Adventist Church in Dothan, Alabama.