Scripture: Matthew 21:12–22
Key verse: (12) And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.
Reflection: In a lecture, Andrew Lester, professor of pastoral care and counseling at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and later at Brite Divinity School, drew a large circle on the chalkboard. He said, “Let that circle represent you.” Put inside it everything, everyone and every idea you love.” He then drew an arrow coming toward the circle. “Let this arrow represent a threat.” He continued, “What happens when you feel threatened?” And drawing a line coiled around the edge of the circle he said, “You become anxious and that is when you need to stop and pay attention.” Expanding on this idea in his book Coping with Anger, Lester says, “Anger occurs when that arrow starts moving toward that circle, when you, or those important to you, are threatened.”
I wonder what threat you find in our passage for today. Is the threat directed directly at Jesus? Is the threat directed toward something else? I see the anger coming in response to a corrupt system. I see Jesus becoming angry at the “pay to play” system taking advantage of sacred worship space. Jesus was angry at the fact people were being taken advantage of and that the house of prayer was being turned into a “den of robbers.” The threat was to God’s love for everyone because people were being cut-off from the temple for prayer and worship. Do think Jesus’ response was appropriate?
What is your relationship with anger? Do you consider anger a sin? Or is anger a suitable emotion in response to threat? If not controlled or used for the advancement of the God’s kin-dom, anger then might be a sin. However, as seen in this passage, anger can be an appropriate response to suffering, survival, and the search for justice. I pray we may be angry for all the right reasons.
Prayer: In the search for justice, grant that our actions may be appropriate to the advancement of your kin-dom O God. By your grace and mercy, I pray that I will speak up for those whose voices have been muzzled and stand up for those who have been oppressed. For any threat to your love is a cause for response. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Author: Ben Brannan
[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].