Be Angry, Yet Do Not Sin

Did you know that the biblical account of Jesus’ cleansing the temple is found in all four gospels? Yet it is only in the book of Mark that I discovered that Jesus entered the temple the day before He came back and drove out the money-changers. Mark 11:11 says, “And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when He had looked round about upon all things, and now evening was come, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.” It was the next day when He returned to Jerusalem that He entered the temple a second time (see Mark 11: 12-17); and it was then that He cast out the buyers and sellers, overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and turned over the seats of the merchants who were selling doves.

In general, teachings about this narrative have depicted Jesus’ actions as intense and angry reactions to the situation in the temple. However, it is possible that Mark’s account might indicate a more controlled and methodical method by which Jesus addressed those conditions. Verse 11 specifically points out that Jesus looked over the entire situation- everything that was going on in His Father’s House- and then He left without doing or saying anything (as far as we can tell from the account). There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus fervently prayed before returning the next day. It would not be surprising that due to His humanity, Jesus’ initial emotional reaction might have played out differently if He had immediately reacted against the offense. Instead, Jesus was able to return fully confident of His father’s will and not only authoritatively drive the offenders out of God’s house, but aptly express the heart of His Father: His temple was to be a place of prayer and worship, not a den of thieves.

It is praiseworthy that Jesus provided a powerful example for us regarding anger: whenever possible, do not impulsively react out of intense anger even when the cause is a righteous one. Instead, take time for praying and seeking the Lord’s will and timing; allow the time to gain proper perspective. In other words, Jesus demonstrated that it is possible to be angry without sinning when we control our fleshly reactions and seek the Lord.