Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chasing out the Thieves - August 12, 2010

Good Thursday morning! We are still expecting a cool down tomorrow after one last day of hot. I'm ready; bring on the cooler days! Did you enjoy the circus last night? I don't know if the performance was enjoyable or not since I wasn't there! I did get quite a few photos of the tent raising in the morning. The kids seemed to enjoy it, and isn't that who circuses are for? As an adult, I noticed other things about the tent, like a certain road-weariness about it. I would imagine that poor tent has been set up, taken down, and moved hundreds of times. The white stripes were more like brown stripes, and the blue stripes didn't have that sharp color we would see on a new tent. Some days we might feel a bit road weary too. We don't get a new body each year; our old one just gets more road weary with each passing season. Now with that cheerful thought to spur you on to work this morning, let's see if Jesus is really angry yet.

Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, "Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father's house into a marketplace!" (John 2:16)

The anger is not out of control at all. While he chased the cattle and sheep out, the doves he did not chase away or smash their cages. A cow or a sheep can be caught, they would not be able to wander far inside the tight streets of Jerusalem, but had Jesus chased the doves out in the same way the birds would have flown away. Jesus was not anti-commerce, just against doing commerce in a place of worship. Whatever corruption or lax attitude caused the selling in the Temple to start, some of the merchants may have simply been making a living. Jesus didn't destroy their product by letting the doves go. His anger was not the rage that destroys all in its path, but a controlled anger to accomplish some purpose. I have been reminded of Revelation 12, where the Great Dragon is forced out of heaven and comes down to Earth in great anger.

The Bible uses the word anger to describe what the Great Dragon comes with, not rage. Is this the same word used to describe the actions of Jesus? Actually, no. There is no mention of anger in the case of Jesus and his clearing of the Temple. I looked back to the accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and found the same thing. The Bible doesn't use anger to describe what Jesus is doing, we seem to assume that from the whip and the overturning of tables and chairs. Was Jesus humming a joyful little tune while he drove out the livestock and scattered the money then? A little variation on that old hymn but with a twist, "Bringing in the sheaves, chasing out the thieves, the priests won't be rejoicing when their money leaves..."? Perhaps he was; we don't know for sure from the stories in the Gospels. I apologize for the little hymn variation; please don't sing those words if your church sings that one on Sunday.

The first three gospels tell of a second clearing of the Temple, while John wrote of the first time. The events are similar, but no anger is mentioned in either case. I have written several times of the Temple clearing, but today the Holy Spirit reminded me that anger is not actually mentioned. Tomorrow, we will see what word is used in reference to Jesus' attitude in this action, but it isn't 'anger'. Once again we see where at times we can be caught assuming something about Jesus. Is the assumption of anger incorrect? Perhaps not; the word we will see tomorrow could be the basis for a righteous anger in clearing the Temple. In a similar situation, you or I would be angry, and perhaps that is why we tend to assume that Jesus was too. This one verse at a time per day does give me a lot of time to think over what is actually written in the Bible and to question some of the assumptions I have made or in the case of this story, have received from Bible teachers over the years. We should question our assumptions about the Bible and read with an awareness in Christ as we grow closer to Him.

Have a peaceful day in Christ!



Anonymous said...

Joy often comes after sorrow, like morning after night.. . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Bucky said...

A wonderful proverb to remember! Thanks to Jiaxingyuxing Yuxingyuli for this comment.