Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 11, 2022

yeah, me too …

Ever been ashamed after getting angry? Ever resolve to never get angry again?

Yeah, me too.

And how many times have you heard someone boil down the Bible this way — “In the Old Testament, God is angry. In the New Testament, Jesus is love.”

Yeah, me too. More times than I can count, actually.

There’s too much evidence refuting that broad-brush abridge to fit in this space, but there is a timely story from “today” that shouts a big ol’ beg-to-differ with the premise. It goes like this … Jesus had a typical “Monday morning” and flew off the handle and cursed at a fig tree. It’s probably because they all had to get up so early to go back to Jerusalem and there wasn’t time for breakfast. I mean, the tree had it coming. It was in full leaf, but no fruit! How was one to handle that rationally on an empty stomach?!

Okay, we all know that wasn’t how it happened. Yes, it’s entirely possible that Jesus was hungry, but He didn’t curse at the fig tree. He cursed it. He did it to call out, and teach His friends, a meaningful truth about deception or pretending to be something (or someone) you’re not. The fig tree in full leaf absent fruit isn’t unlike one who professes Christ but does not know and follow Him in their heart. “Don’t be a believer deceiver,” I hear Jesus saying that morning. I’m guessing in the moment the scene appeared a lot more like the way I told it in the paragraph above. But after a day had passed and they noticed the same tree withered and dead on the way back to Jerusalem the next morning, I believe they knew it wasn’t Jesus being angry in a way that would require an apology.

The pattern continued when they reached the city later that morning. Jesus made a beeline for the temple and wasted no time throwing a complete temple tantrum, knocking over tables and chairs, smashing the coin boxes and busting the cages to release the doves! Yep, also not how it happened. Although, I’m sure that’s what it must have looked like to the pilgrim and profiteer alike. A careful read, however, of the very end of the triumphal entry story in Mark’s gospel (chapter eleven, verse eleven) reveals an essential detail that speaks the full truth of Jesus’ righteous response. That detail speaks to the deep goodness in the heart of Christ that was at the heart of His actions that day. The One who some mistook as a prophet was driving out the engine of profit in his Father’s house. His singular and sweeping action excised the excise and restored it to a place for prayer and worship. Reading especially carefully, you see that Jesus visited the temple at the end of the day Sunday to quietly and thoroughly observe. His anger Monday was not reactionary rage; it was a right and measured response to the cancer that had been growing for too long in God’s house. Anger may have never existed if not for the fall, but because of the fall there are right reasons to be angry. Never at someone. Rather, at something. Sin. See, the only pain Jesus inflicted that day was to the pockets of the profiteers. Some may have lost their livelihood, but not one lost their life. Jesus would be the only one on whom that fate would fall, becoming sin for us in order to pay its full price and free us from its bondage.

Let’s not resolve to never get angry again. Instead, let’s hold this story of a tree and a temple in our hearts as the way He showed us to be in our anger. With anger, there is a high bar … a divinely high bar. The apostle Paul said it this way, “In your anger, do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26a). Jesus did that. Through His power, so can we.

As He laid His head down Monday night, Jesus felt no guilt or shame. And certainly, by that point, He was not still angry. In the temple tumult, Jesus said and did what was right. His choices then are ours to make now. Our model is Him. May our desire for our anger be that it comes under the control and direction of the Spirit always, and be a “yeah, me too” when put up next to the example of Jesus.

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Responses

  1. Yeah, me too……to your first mention and use. Not so much the 2nd first, the redeemed, provided and positive (effective and productive) Way. I am more in the need an apology category……whether sought or not. I am impacted by the contrast of the “at” with the “it”. This week is all about – so that His choices might be ours. The Example that entreats, encourages and enables!

    Thank You, Father, for Your determined and recorded activity of Your Son on this Monday. Thank You for uniquely sharing this day with, and through, Mark. 🙂

  2. Loved the play with words like prophet and profit, excised the excise. But don’t be a “believer-deceiver” that’s a goody. This writing gives a whole new meaning to “Yeah, me too”.


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