When Jesus Gets Angry

Image from Scarsellino's Driving of the Merchants from the Temple

We don’t often think about wild Jesus. Does it make you a little uncomfortable, too, to hear in the Sunday Gospel reading from today that Jesus got really angry? And not just kind of a little miffed but full on flipping tables and making a whip angry. That story of Jesus cleansing the temple of what defiled it is sometimes an overlooked passage of Scripture almost seeming out of character for the Lord. We tend to often hear about suffering Jesus and merciful Jesus and kind, gentle Jesus. We don’t often hear about wild, passionate Jesus. We can sometimes forget...it’s all the same Jesus. That same Jesus making the whip is the same Jesus who is complete mercy, complete love. It is only in His love that He wishes, no longs, to return to God what was supposed to be kept sacred. The zeal for God’s house consumes Him.
Some years in the liturgical calendar, the Church juxtaposes this Gospel with a reading from 1 Corinthians. There are many things to learn from the story of the temple cleansing, of course, but in light of Paul’s words to the Corinthians something beautifully personal emerges.
He says, “Do you not know that you are the temple of Godand that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.” (I Cor. 3:16-17)
Dear sister, do you not see?
That temple is YOU.
All those things residing in that temple that are not worthy of being there, He longs to drive out. Those wounds from your past, those sins that bind you, those attacks from the evil one, that depression, that resentment, that unresolved grief, that addiction, that anger…all those things taking up His space in you, His holy temple…He hates those things more than you do and He is wild about driving them out. He longs to cleanse YOU, the temple more beloved to Him than any made of brick and mortarHe hates when sin enters our hearts and grasps ahold of us. He hates how the wounds inflicted by others stifle the free expression of our hearts. He hates the depression and despair that cloud our vision of who we are and what we are called to become. Zeal for YOU, His precious temple, consumes Him and drives Him to long to restore us to our true beauty and purpose. Not because you are not good enough, no, not at all. Quite the opposite, really. It is rather because you are His temple and so loved and infinitely precious to Him. 
Do you see? His anger is not at the temple. No, that is the very thing He views as beautiful and worthy of protection and redemption. It's because it is so beautiful and meant for the greatest of things that He gets so angry at the things which defile it. And you...you are now that temple. He wants to see your heart whole again, reaching the beauty and heights and worship it was meant for, and He wants it a fitting place to be fully His.
But sometimes, oh sometimes, that cleansing must happen with a whip. Sometimes, to clear that space in our temple, oh, does it sting! The whip becomes an instrument of mercy clearing out what is unfitting our beauty and dignity. His stinging love is manifest in the zeal He has to redeem us from what defiles us. And often after driving out the bad, that same whip becomes the surgeon’s needle, piercing the flesh, yes, but threading and binding our wounds so that they can heal correctly and we can be made whole again.
What is it that is taking up your temple space? What is it that has a hold on your soul that is keeping it from being a holy and fitting temple for Him? What are those things that your Beloved wants to redeem you from? Are they sins? Past hurts? A relationship? A mindset? Attacks? Can we allow that Jesus to enter into our temples in His wild mercy and love to cast those things out? Can we see the love behind the zeal even when it hurts like a whip? The zeal for you, His beloved temple, consumes Him, sister. Let's allow the cleansing to begin.


  1. That is so good! I’ve never thought about it this way before.

  2. I never thought of it that way! What a meditation. Thank you.


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