Righteous Anger

HOMILY

Anger – unrighteous anger

Indignation = Righteous Anger = Indignation

FIRST what is the difference between RIGHTEOUS and UNRIGHTEOUS anger?

 

UNRIGHTEOUS ANGER:

Psalms 37:8 – Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.

Proverbs 15:18 – A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

Genesis 4:5-8 – but for Cain and his offering he [the LORD] had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.

 

RIGHTEOUS ANGER

John 2:13-25

13The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.14In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17

ANGER   

        Often, people assume Christians should  never get angry –                          That is not nice…

        The reason may be that the only time we read about Jesus being angry was when he cleared the temple… and one time doesn’t count I suppose.

 Sometimes, however, God allows his people          to fuss and remain faithful.

Such is the case when King David furrows his brow and huffs:

God, I wish you would kill the wicked!
Get away from me, you murderers!
They say evil things about you.
Your enemies use your name thoughtlessly.
Lord, I hate those who hate you;
I hate those who rise up against you.
I feel only hate for them;
they are my enemies (Psalm 139:19–22, NCV).

Or when Nehemiah gets upset after learning about the wealthy Israelites’ exploitation of the poor: “Then I was very angry when I had heard … these words” (Nehemiah 5:6, NASB).

What’s noteworthy in these situations is that David called down curses on sworn enemies of God, and Nehemiah directed his irritation at the “haves” repressing the “have-nots.” Both men were angry because of ungodly people or activities.

And Jesus expressed anger—at the Pharisees who exhibited such hard hearts (Mark 3:1-5) and at the crass commercialism that sullied the temple (Matthew 21:12-13; Luke 19:45-48)—to convey extreme displeasure over sin. Those reasons are the key to righteous anger.

How does this affect me? As Christ-followers, we’re totally appropriate getting upset over sin, too.

Evils such as abuse, racism, pornography, and child sex trafficking should incense us. BUT

But no matter how reprehensible the people or activities we’re condemning, we still aren’t justified to sin in our responses:

The end does NOT justify the means…

“When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day” (Ephesians 4:26, NCV). Those of us with confrontational personalities might want to ask ourselves the question, 

Is my motive to be right or to be righteous? before ripping into the offending parties.

Such considerations also help us be pokey in getting peeved: “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19–20, ESV). Instead of replying immediately, simply counting to ten before reacting usually leads to much better results in a contentious situation.

If we call ourselves followers of Christ, then we must get involved with working to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the poor.  It is our ministry to model how to stand against hatred and oppression and cruelty!

“How can I know for sure that my anger is righteous indignation?”

Is our indignation directed at something that is not of God’s will for us? Are we angry at actions that are detrimental to children, people of different races, different genders or injustice? 

If we can say yest to any of those, then we can be sure we are carrying righteous anger.

 When Jesus entered the Temple and witnessed the disrespect, abuse of power, and dishonest behavior, he responded appropriately…

Appropriate response  and NOT proportionate response –

For example… a proportionate response would be if someone hit you in the face with a pie – the proportionate response would be to hit them in the face with a pie… which would begin a never ending series of proportionate responses and nothing is settled…

And even though appropriate response is still a subjective issue… we can still use our spiritual beliefs to determine what would be appropriate for US. —

If we are hit in the face with a pie… it is natural for us to be angry, but   how we respond and express our anger must be determined by how we live our faith. 

  • We are taught to be slow to anger
  • We are taught to turn the other cheek
  • We are taught to love our enemy and do well by them

So, it frees us from having to locate a pie for ourselves…

As we often find when studying stories in scripture… we find numerous interpretations —

In this story of Jesus clearing the temple – NONE of the Gospel writers mention Jesus being angry — as in out of control rage… 
Mark 11:15-19   English Standard Version (ESV)

15 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.16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 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.” 18 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. 19 And when evening came they[a] went out of the city.

Luke 19: 45-48  ESV

45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”

47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests 

 John 2:13-22  New International Version (NIV)

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”1His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”[a]

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Of course, when we hear the story and the circumstances – it is easy to presume Jesus was angry… making a whip, turning over tables, driving the animals and people out of the building… just brings to mind an angry person—

And it is one story in which we allow ourselves to imagine Jesus MAD as hell – frustrated… fed up with people disobeying or dishonoring God…But, was his anger righteous – justified – and was his response appropriate – effective?

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Let’s look at the culture of the times…

There was a proliferation of currency systems an standards…

Like today… different countries have different currency systems. At this time, there are 180 different currencies in the world, although The most common is the US Dollar and Euro.

If you have traveled out of the country, the US Dollar must be changed into the currency of the country you are visiting.

The exchange of currency was carried out by “shulhani” (exchange banker). Money exchangers/changers were a common sight around the temple, so that offerings would be given in the appropriate currency.

__________

Because the Jewish population was scattered outside the land of Israel, many came from far away to fulfill the religious requirement of animal sacrifice in Jerusalem.

Some would travel great distances with their animals but many did not want the hassle.

Rather than travel with the animals- having to provide food/water/rest – many waited until getting to Jerusalem to purchase animals for sacrifice.

These pilgrims from distant lands poured money into the Jerusalem economy, and locals often took great advantage of that….and many were not people of wealth… some had to gather money from friends and family to make the journey…

The animals doves, sheep, oxen – being sold were not of  the best quality

The money changers charged high fees  to exchange currency

Profits were being made and the  pilgrims were being cheated –

And with most things that draw large crowds, the merchants take advantage of the tourists….

And Jesus was NOT happy— These merchants and money changers were more focused on profit than the observance of PASSOVER.

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Do not be confused with images we have seen of Jesus clearing the Temple…He was probably  clearing the Court of the Gentiles which is outside of the Temple proper.  The Temple was really a complex, or compound of different areas. Around the exterior of the Temple were walled courts and they were enclosed with colonnades and this are was referred to as the Court of the Gentiles. It was as far as Gentiles were allowed into the Temple area. 

The entire Temple compound was considered holy, but it became increasingly more holy as one entered farther in, from east to west. Warning signs were posted to inform the Gentiles that if they past a certain point into the Temple, it was punishable by death.

They could walk within in it but they were forbidden to go any further than the outer court. The merchants were more likely in the Court than the temple doing their business…but it was still HOLY ground..

So, Jesus was angry and ‘righteously’ so…  This was PASSOVER, and a time for worship, meditation, sacrifice, prayer and honoring God. But, with corrupt priests, and money hungry merchants, it had become a bazaar of exploitation.

As Jesus entered the area, he saw  NO worshipful atmosphere befitting the temple…No reverence and humility… 

rather he found noisy marketplace of haggling, bartering, and arguing. Animals bawling, and bleating… tables of money and vendors calling out to draw customers.

__ Jesus took action…. He made a whip of cords… probably from the cords used to tie the animals… so that let the animals loose, then he takes the whip and He drove all the merchants out of the temple, along with their sheep, doves and oxen. 

In addition, He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, 

Imagine the CHAOS

Vendors chasing animals that had been let loose and sent running

Money tables turned over and the crowd diving to grab what they could as the merchants shouted and fought.

Even with all of the competing racket… the intensity of Jesus’ righteous indignation was unmistakable… as he shouted Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business,”

 Was his action proportionate to the violation? 

What would we do? How would we respond.

What are we willing to do when we see people being oppressed – rights being ignored—justice being pushed aside?

How will our righteous anger come forth?

Marching?  Protesting?  Writing? Speaking?

But however we decide to respond… let it be with control, with compassion and without malice.