Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Good Way to Flip Tables

Peter stood back awkwardly.

Everything had seemed fine. Actually, everything had seemed great. They were in Jerusalem. Despite all the rumors of the men who opposed him, Jesus had remained determined that they come. When they came to the city, Jesus came riding in on the back of a donkey. The people had responded phenomenally. They had shouted and waved and rejoiced at the sight of him. The jubilant response from the people had put all the doubts and fears to rest in Peter's mind.

At least it had then.

However, now was a different matter. Now they were all in the temple. There was about twenty tables in disarray. They had been arranged in such nice, neat rows. Now, not a single table had been left standing. The contents of each table had been spilled all over the floor. The floor was covered with money, papers, broken pieces of the tables, animals, and bird droppings. Out of the corner of his eye, Peter saw feathers floating down to messy floor. 


Peter blinked, and then blinked again. Then he looked over to the one man responsible for this mess.


His back was to Peter, but Peter could see the way Jesus' shoulders still heaved up and down as he continued to suck air in deep. His posture was rigid, and both of his hands were clenched into tight fists at his sides. 

Only a few people still stood inside the Temple. In addition to Jesus throwing everything from one side of the room to the other, he had also driven out all the people. Now, Jesus stood in the middle of the room, still breathing angrily, while Peter and the rest of the stunned disciples watched from the back of the room. Many of the people who had been in the Temple before Jesus arrived watched from the doorway, not daring to step foot under the same roof as Jesus.

Jesus turned around, and looked at all of them. He seemed to be paying extra attention to the people who watched him so nervously. Never breaking eye contact, he said, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it into a den of robbers.'" 

Based on Matthew 21:12-13

"Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil." Ephesians 4:26-27

Originally, I had this blog written out and done based on the two points in these verses from Ephesians. The next day, I thought about it some more and decided that we needed to look at them, point by point.

Point Number 1: Be angry and do not sin.

Did you know that you can be angry and not sin? In this story, that's exactly what Jesus did. Some of you might be thinking that just can't be true because Jesus just had a temper tantrum incredibly similar to your two year old. Wrong. This was righteous anger. In this section, Jesus was offended at what the sinners were doing in God's Temple. He looked around, and all He could see was evil in a place dedicated to God. That made Him angry, and He responded by driving out the evil.

There are countless times in the Bible where God's people have sinned, and He is angry with them. He didn't ignore their sin. He punished them, but it was never done like it was a temper tantrum, fit of anger. No, it was always what they deserved, truthfully, it was often less then what they deserved.

A Christian comedian once said that people view God as a giant fuzzy-whuzzy Care Bear in the sky. Sounds funny, and it probably made you giggle, but how many people really do think that about God? People go around thinking that God won't be angry with them because He is so loving and caring, or that He won't ever really discipline them. Yes, He has His caring, forgiving moments, but He is also a just God Who can not stand the presence of sin. So just like His Father, Jesus became angry, and did something about it. But He did not sin. It's about how we act, what we do, and how we respond to the junk people throw at us. You can respond with a holy rebuke, give them what-for, and still do it in love. We need to be zealous Christians who stand up for the things of God. We are not servants to the Care Bears, but to the Righteous One who flipped tables to get peoples attention.

Be angry and do not sin. I know I struggle with this. I either go overboard, or I'm not strong enough. I get angry, and I act on that anger. I reply with a cutting remark, ignore the person, or do something mean in response. Or I just kind of shrug it off, and let people take advantage of me. Before I know it, I'm a living like I'm a doormat. Jesus did not do that. Jesus drove out the evil. Jesus was not a big pushover, and He wasn't an angry monster. He was that perfect zealous point in the middle. That's the point we are supposed to achieve. That's the only way for us to be angry and not sin.

V. Joy Palmer

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