Alec Baldwin has anger issues. He was arrested for punching another driver in the face after his victim took a parking spot that he wanted in Manhattan. Baldwin has fought with reporters, been kicked off airlines, and screamed at his daughter calling her a “spoiled fat pig.” There are video compilations of his angry tirades because so many of them have been caught on camera. For being a supposed comedian, he is not very happy, and he really needs help!
We all get wronged at times, we all face exasperating circumstances that test us, but some people struggle with anger more than others. Is it always a sin to get angry? No, we know the Bible says, “Be angry and sin not; let not the sun go down on your wrath” (Eph 4:26). The Bible teaches there is righteous indignation or anger. That is when we actually get angry at sin, not a personal indignity. With this in mind, let’s work through today’s passage in John.
First we see Jesus’ passion for reverence (12-17). This is the first of three Passovers mentioned in John’s Gospel (2:13; 6:4; 11:55). On the 14th day of Nisan (March/April), the Jews slaughtered a lamb as an offering. This memorial reminded the Israelites of when God passed over the homes of those who had put the blood of the lamb on their doorposts, while smiting the Egyptians. Devout Jews were required to attend this religious holiday each year in Jerusalem and came from all over the Roman Empire, swelling Jerusalem. It was nearly impossible for many worshippers to bring a lamb with them, so the priests established a lucrative business selling animals and changing money. Each worshiper had to pay his annual temple tax, but it had to be paid in Jewish or Tyrian coinage. They charged exorbitant prices for the animals and high fees for the money exchange. Jesus called this a “den of thieves.” The tragedy was all of this took place in the Court of the Gentiles, where the Jews were supposed to be telling the curious Gentile worshipers about their God. Instead of a house of worship, the Temple looked like a stockyard or bazaar. Jesus was grieved over the religious corruption and terrible testimony. Using a home-made scourge, He drove them out, along with their animals and money. Selling animals to out-of-towners and converting their money into proper currency was legitimate, but it was being done in the wrong place with the wrong motive. We all understand ministry costs money. We should understand there is a reverence and decorum attached to biblical stewardship. When religion and ministry are used for profiteering, they obscure the Gospel and make God mad! The disciples watched in amazement and recalled Psalm 69:9, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Jesus’ passion for God’s holiness revealed His true nature as the Judge of all the earth. How do you respond when God’s name, God’s holiness, and God’s worship are perverted and debased?
Next we see Jesus’ promise of resurrection (18-22). The Jewish religious leaders asked Jesus to show the source of His authority. They were the guardians of the Jewish faith and they had the right to test any new prophet who appeared. They wanted a miracle! Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and I will raise it up in three days.” They misunderstood Him completely. They said the temple had been under construction for 46 years─ how could He rebuild it in three days? But Jesus spoke of the temple of His body. This was a prediction about His own death and resurrection, only later did the disciples remember this exchange and its meaning. The temple was central to Jewish worship with its ceremonies and sacrifices. The Jews were angered by the suggestion it could be destroyed. But Jesus’ body was the new temple and sacrifice; the Jewish temple would be needed no more. Jesus, in a cryptic way, predicted the end of the Jewish religious system.
Lastly in the passage today, we see Jesus’ perception of reality (23-25). While Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover, He performed miracles that are not given any detail in any of the Gospels. It may have been these signs that attracted Nicodemus (John 3:2). Because of these miracles many professed to believe in Him, but Jesus did not accept their profession because He knew what was in each person’s heart and mind. These people believed in Jesus, but He didn’t believe in them! He had no faith in their faith. It is one thing to respond to miracles and quite another to commit oneself to Jesus Christ and continue in His Word (John 8:30-31). The human heart is attracted to the sensational. The five thousand whom He fed wanted to make Him king until He preached the sermon on the Bread of Life, and then they left Him in droves. He knew what was in man. As we work our way through John’s Gospel, we will see Jesus’ miracles followed by His preaching. Christ’s words begin to penetrate and convict hearts which leads to either conversion or opposition. Neutrality is impossible. People must decide whether they are for Him or against Him.
In conclusion let’s apply this to our own lives today. First, because our worship matters to God, let’s be certain we worship in a way that brings God’s blessing and not His wrath.
Then, because Jesus knows what is in our hearts, let’s follow Him for who He is, and what He has done, not for what we can get.