I am not an angry person.
I grew up believing that handling situations with grace and a level head should be highly valued. I never let my anger rapidly bubble into a passion that could hurt others. It was assumed that everyone should hold to this ideal too.
But as I grew older, I found a passage of scripture that puzzled me. In each gospel, there is a story how Jesus cleared the temple of vendors and how he used a whip to drive the people and the animals out. He also threw tables over and yelled at those selling the animals.
This behavior was completely unacceptable to me, especially coming from Jesus: the meek teacher who always seems to be cradling lambs in paintings.
However, I came to understand this story a little better in college when my professor brought it up in his lecture. He noted that, according to John 2:15, Jesus made the whip himself at the temple. My professor estimated that the whip could have taken Jesus 45 minutes or so to make. This action of clearing the temple did not come as a sudden outburst of anger, it was thought out and deliberate.
Also, the text indicates that while he drove out the cattle and sheep with a whip, he reacted differently with the dove vendors. He did not turn over their tables, which probably had the doves in cages on them, but overturned their benches (Matt. 21:12; Mark 11:15).
One wonders if Jesus was careful not to overthrow the tables with doves as they could have been hurt easily. He wasn’t trying to hurt them, he was trying have his people understand what a grievous mistake they were making in allowing the holy temple to become a shopping center.
After understanding this passage a little better, I could see that Jesus’ anger was justified, thought out, and purposely did not hurt those who hadn’t wrong him. It’s okay to be angry, just as long as it’s expressed in a godly way.
Copyright 2015 by Molly Farnsley. Use by Permission Only.