We all prefer the pastoral Jesus with the compassionate eyes and the emphatic ears, the healing touch and the cathartic presence.  But he was formed by the prophets of old: Isaiah’s raised voice for the poor, Hosea’s temper over idolatry, Amos’ fury for justice.  Jesus was prophetic, a prophet, especially in today’s text.

John 2:13-22 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Is anger a Christian emotion?

Congregational Responses:

Only if it is directed at systems, not people.

Every movement of change began with someone who was upset.

Anger is one of the seven deadly sins.

As long as it isn’t self-serving.

“… comedy starts as a spew, a kind of explosion,” says Robin Williams.  “It comes out of a deeper darker side.  Maybe it comes from anger, because I’m outraged by cruel absurdities, the hypocrisy that exists everywhere, even within yourself, where it is hardest to see.”


Is anger a Christian emotion?


The heifers are stampeding the sanctuary and the tables are splintering against the grain; the doves are rattling their cages and the sheep are shaking in their wool; the cash registers are smashing shut as the whip are cracking, “Stop!” “Stop!”  “Stop!”


Anger is a boundary emotion that’s defined by the prophetic “NO.” “NO, the kingdom is not a commodity to be transacted.” “NO, a burnt offering will not be required to bend a knee in my name.” “NO, the poor will not be gouged by price.”  “NO, the temple isn’t a building but a body.”  “NO, the church isn’t a bank that refuses debt forgiveness.”


Anger gives witness to what and who we care about most.  And Jesus loves the world too much not to be angry with it.


In the 1940s he took his righteous indignation off the hardwood to flagrantly foul Jim Crow. As a player, he demanded that his high school principal merge the white and black varsity basketball teams. As a coach, he showed up at The Pines restaurant in Chapel Hill with a friend from the Missionary Baptist Church, sat down for dinner and forced integration. He offered Charlie Scott a full ride to become the first black scholarship athlete in the state of North Carolina.  He had to be restrained by an assistant coach when a student in Columbia hurled a racial slur.  Dean Smith is revered, even more than his championships and victories, for what made him mad.


Angry disciples, want to follow Jesus?  Begin by turning over some tables.