This Holy Week, I’m going to be blogging each day, tracing the tears Jesus shed for Jerusalem to the tear filled eyes who first saw the Risen Christ. Throughout I’ll be following prompts from #OurHolyWeek
Have you ever been so angry that you can barely speak?
When you desperately want to get your point across, but find tears spilling from your eyes instead?
It looks to me, that Jesus’ anger in the temple forecourts looked a little bit like this. We aren’t told if tears of frustration fell as he turned over tables, but we can begin to imagine the devastation and rage Jesus felt as He surveyed what was happening in his Father’s house.
And when Jesus exclaimed; ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? he was doing so in the presence of Gentiles – and many believed that the Messiah would purge the temple of Gentiles – and yet here was Jesus welcoming them.
He wasn’t just turning over the tables, he was turning over their way of thinking.
All too often, we don’t do well with anger and rage as christians. We see them as “bad” emotions, and yet here is Jesus, angry at the misuse of His Father’s house.
It is not anger and rage that are the sins – but for many, uncontrolled anger and rage fuel sin.
And yet Jesus did not sin.
The word rage itself can either be used to describe ‘violent uncontrollable anger’ but it can also mean ‘a vehement desire or passion’.
Rage can be the catalyst for change; the start of something new. We have seen throughout history that people’s anger can and does make a difference – we just have to be sure that our rage is directed into creative action, rather than destruction.
It was the injustice of what was happening in the Temple that enraged Jesus – and He wanted to see change.
When I read about injustice, I can feel rage burning within me – and I want to see change.
I want to rage when I see schoolchildren going hungry in the holidays because their parents can’t afford to feed them without their term time free school meal provision.
I want to rage when I see the effects of climate change on the poorest people in our world.
I want to rage when I see people unable to access proper care and treatment for their mental health problems because of stigma and lack of funding.
Rage can propel us to fight for change when we let it be a power of creation rather than destruction.
Mark tells us that after this episode in the temple people were ‘spellbound’ by Jesus’ teaching. His actions were not just those of thoughtless vandalism, they were a visual representation of his message – the gospel that welcomes sinners – that fuels change.
Our rage can be transformed by God when we bring it before Him in lament – Walter Brueggemann writes:
“the laments are refusals to settle for the way things are. They are acts of relentless hope that believes no situation falls outside Yahweh’s capacity for transformation. No situation falls outside of Yahweh’s responsibility.
Jesus’ anger was an act of hope-filled defiance to show Israelites and Gentiles that change was coming.
We have to bring our anger to God in lament to allow Him to empower our own hope-filled defiance to see change.