Are We Making Jesus Mad?
Everybody loves Jesus, right? I've never ever had a conversation with anyone who thought he was a jerk. He healed people, loved people, and cared for the outcast. He died a horrible death because he believed that he could save our souls. Even if someone doesn't believe the story at all, you can't not like Jesus. So what's the problem? The problem is a lot of people love Jesus, they just don't want to follow Him, and they're not interested in Him. Why is that? It's because they're not getting Jesus represented to them well. Jesus loves us and He died for us, but for a few weeks, I'd like to look at the side of Jesus that should make the church pause and pay attention, ANGRY JESUS Just to be clear, anger is not a sin. Paul said, “In your anger do not sin.” And Jesus, that everybody loves, one time made a whip, went into the temple, and drove out the money changers and overturned tables. This Jesus told people it would be better for them to have a rope tied around their neck with a two-ton rock attached and thrown into the sea. This Jesus called people names like “brood of vipers”, “unmarked graves”, and “sons of hell”.
Jesus definitely said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” He said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. I am gentle and humble in heart." I think the world's idea that Jesus was nice is correct, so what do you do with “you snakes”, “you brood of vipers” and “how will you escape being condemned to hell”? This is Jesus too. Sometimes Jesus' words were sharp and biting.When the son of God gets mad, we should pay attention because we can learn a lot about a person from the things they don't like. So, who was He mad at? Well, that's the kicker. I always knew Jesus was mad at the Pharisees, Sadducees, and teachers of the law. Then one day I realized the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the teachers of the law were the church leaders of their day, and Jesus was a part of that church. As a matter of fact, this was the church that God set up. They were the people appointed by God for the purpose of enacting God's system of religion. When that realization hit me like a ton of bricks, I began to wonder if there was anything that caused Jesus to be mad at His church back in the day, that might be my issue as a current church leader. I discovered four basic attitudes that were the problem: legalism, judgmentalism, hypocrisy, and indifference to suffering. Those were the four things that flipped Jesus’ switch. In fact, we still have problems with those things today.
The bigger “aha” moment for me was when I realized WHY those bad attitudes made Jesus angry. In every scriptural instance where Jesus expressed anger, the people who claimed to be religious and followers of God gave “love” a bad name through legalism, hypocrisy, judgmentalism, or indifference to need. When our religious attitudes get in the way of God's love, this makes Jesus mad. And, as I’ve pointed my finger at the Pharisees and Sadduccees, I’ve had three fingers pointing back at me. Search us oh God.
The real tragedy about this propensity that we have to drift from God's heart of love is what it does to those on the outside who are not part of the active church and may not consider themselves followers of Jesus. Jesus was mad at the people on the inside of the religious groups who were blocking the way for those on the outside to come into God’s presence. All Jesus ever wanted was for people to be reconciled to God the Father who loves each one. Jesus died so ALL could have access to God. He paid the ultimate price and it is an affront to Him when we, as His church, do not represent love well and push people away from God’s loving presence after Jesus paid such a price to provide for that access.
Does that change things? Jesus' anger in the story of the temple took place in the gentile court and was directed at the religious people who were denying access to the gentiles who wanted to worship God. Those who already felt furthest from the Father, who were suffering the most, were being robbed not only of their hard-earned money, but of their access to God. It made Jesus angry because access to God is what He came to provide. This was something Jesus felt deeply passionate about. Jesus will throw tables, or animals, or people out of the way to get you access to the Father because He gave up His life to get us full, unhindered access. God wants us in. He's calling us in. He's never going to stand by and let anyone, or anything, keep any of us out. He came to reunite the lost children with their Father.
I realized at some point that Jesus was mad at the Pharisees, but the Pharisees were doing what they thought they were supposed to be doing. If I'm holding any of those same attitudes in my heart, if the current church is functioning in any of those same attitudes, we're guilty of the things that made Jesus angry. We will unpack this further in the coming weeks. I hope you will join us as we learn what makes Jesus mad and turn to those things that please Him.