Scripture: Mark 11:12-25
Key verses: (15-18, 25) 15Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; 16and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17He was teaching and saying, “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.” 18And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching.
25″Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”
Reflection: I’ve never known quite what to do with the story of Jesus getting so angry in the temple that he turns over the tables of the money changers. An angry Jesus, even in righteous anger, is not my usual way of imagining him. The knowledge that he got angry, as I do, helps me understand his humanity better. I am struck that this story is in the middle of a story about him cursing a fig tree because figs are out of season. It is apparently a really bad day for Jesus. And his week is only going to get harder.
Jesus may have had some important powerful lesson in mind with both acts of anger that I can’t glean right now. What I am focused on is what he says at the end of both stories: 25″Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” According to Jesus, even bad days can be redeemed with the power of grace and forgiveness.
Maybe you need to offer some grace and forgiveness to those with whom you are angry. Maybe they need to do so for you because you lashed out in anger, even if it was a little bit righteous. Maybe you need to forgive yourself. Maybe you need to file this story away and pull it out tomorrow, next week, or next year so you can remind yourself over and over again that there is forgiveness when anger gets the best of us. That is good news to hear in a hard week.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me when my anger overwhelms me. Help me sort out what is righteous and justified, and how to act on it in ways that bring your kingdom closer. Help me forgive others who might just be having a really bad day. Keep me focused on you during this holy week. In the name of Christ, I pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].