I. John 2:13-25 Jesus’ Righteous Anger
II. 2:13-17 Zeal for His house
A. V13, The Passover was at hand. There were three main feasts that every man of Israel was required to attend if he wanted to keep the law. Jesus had attended since he was 12, Jesus kept the entire law of God perfectly and spotlessly, without blame. He did this for us since we couldn’t. Jesus was the perfect Passover lamb, but that is a topic for another study.
B. V14, Here we see the righteous anger of God. There are a few things we must understand about righteous anger.
1. First, it is anger completely under control. This was not the first time Jesus had seen this abuse of the house of God going on. He had seen it every year for at least 18 years or so, so this is something he had thought about doing for a long time but had waited until the time was right.
2. Secondly, righteous anger is a motivating force to cause you to take action against that which is evil out of your love for God. Jesus saw that His Father’s house was being profaned and abused for the sake of greed. His zeal for God, righteous anger, caused him to take action. Righteous anger is something that motivates us to take action against that which is wrong, but it is not something that is uncontrollable.
3. Thirdly, righteous anger is a fruit of love. Jesus loved His Father, and it angered Him to see His house being treated as a market for greedy gain. Jesus also loved the people that wanted to come and worship at the temple but couldn’t. The Lord loves those whom He corrects, His correction and purification of His Father’s house is an act of love for His people.
a) This market had likely started out as a convenience since people would come from all over the world to worship God at it. They were supposed to bring a sacrifice of a lamb, a spotless lamb, which would have been difficult to bring and to keep healthy on the trip over so they provided the service of buying pre-approved sacrifices in the temple. This used to take place by the pool of Bethesda but someone had the idea to move it into the court of the Gentiles. This would have made worship distracting and hard for Gentiles since the court of the Gentiles was as far in as they could go. God’s house was to be a place of worship for everyone. Also, they had money changers because you could not pay your tithes to God in Roman money, since Roman money bore the image of a pagan god. The money changers probably also started out as a convenience, to convert roman money into the temple shekel, but they had inflated the exchange rate to make money off of the worship of God.
4. Fourthly, righteous anger has nothing to do with you being wronged… it always is anger in the defense of others being wrong. The people were just trying to worship God, those who traveled and sacrificed the greatest to come (Jews who lived great distances away, Gentiles, and the poor) were being taken advantage of the most. God takes it very seriously when people get in the way of worshiping Him, especially if they try to make money off of those who want to worship Him. God also takes a special interest in opposing those who oppress the poor.
5. The problem was that they were “doing business” off the worship of God. This is what made Jesus so angry.
C. V15, Jesus made a cord, showing that he was still in control of his emotions since this would have taken a little bit of time. Jesus was neither a sissy nor a push over. He was always in control of His emotions and always sought peace, but when He did get angry it would have been a scary sight in deed.
1. He drove them out, and I don’t think they would have gone out if he had just politely asked them to leave. This was the only way to get them out, through whipping them.
a) Hebrews 12:6-13, God chastens and scourges every son He receives, it is an evidence of God’s love when He chastens you. If you do not know the chastening of the Lord you may want to ask if you are a child of the Lord. The point of His chastening is so that we may be partakers of His holiness. Chastening from the Lord helps us to grow to be more holy. The temple was a holy place, and it was in need of some chastening to keep it holy.
2. This was a scene alright, tables being overturned, sheep and oxen running for their lives while their masters chased them from behind. Jesus, although the prince of peace, was not afraid of confrontation when necessary. We do see that Jesus is much harder on religious folk than he is on professing sinners. This is because religious people should know better, and unfortunately religious people tend to have harder hearts and have to be humbled before they can realize they need Jesus.
D. V16, The doves were the sacrifices of the poor, God had allowed the poor to sacrifice doves if you couldn’t afford a lamb. To these Jesus specifically points out and indictment to not make His Father’s house a house of merchandise.
1. Proverbs 22:22-23 “Do not rob the poor because he is poor, Nor oppress the afflicted at the gate; For the LORD will plead their cause, And plunder the soul of those who plunder them.”
a) Remember that was we study the life of Jesus we are seeing the heart of God revealed to us, the heart of the unseen God seen. The worship of God is meant for everyone, no matter where you are from, no matter if you are Jew or Greek, no matter if you are rich or poor. Woe to those who try to make money off the poor who desire to worship God, they have it coming.
2. Although Jesus is angry here and is chastening His people, He is still merciful. He could have dumped the birds on the ground, if the cages were locked this would have hurt the doves. If the cages flung open the doves could have flown away and their owners unable to recover their property. Jesus shows control over His anger, even in the midst of it and is aware of damaging their property. Remember that Jesus is God, if He wanted to He could have called down fire from heaven to consume these merchants and their goods, His chastening is extremely gentile and yet forceful enough to make his point.
E. V17, Everything Jesus ever did was in accordance with scripture. If something makes you angry, and you think it is righteous anger, make sure you can back it up by the scriptures. If you can’t then it is not righteous anger. This story is not an excuse for us to fly off the handle in a moment of wrath and say well Jesus got angry so I can too.
1. Psalm 4:4 says “Be angry and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.” If you are angry, but cannot sit on your bed, meditating in your heart and being still, then you’re in sin. Righteous anger is completely controllable, but it is anger that motivates us to correct that which is wrong.
2. This was an act of authority, and was how Jesus revealed Himself publically to Israel. By calling the temple “my Father’s house” Jesus was declaring Himself to be the promised Messiah, since only a King from of the line of David could call God Father, and more specifically it would be what the Messiah would call God. This scripture quoted in v17 comes from the Messianic Psalm 69:9, and by remembering it the disciples were understanding that Jesus was doing this because He was the Messiah.
3. This also was what had been promised and prophesied in Mal. 3:1-3, that the Messiah would come to purify the sons of Levi, that the Lord would come into His temple and that none could stand before Him. No one stopped Jesus from doing it, they may have questioned Him but they didn’t stop Him, probably because what He was doing was so right that no one could deny it.
III. John 2:18-22 The New Temple
A. V18, The Jews demanded a sign, as they were so apt and really right to do. God had always accompanied His prophets with signs to show their authority and authenticity. Yet really, Jesus should not have had to do a sign in order to do this, it was really very clearly wrong.
B. V19, Jesus points them to the one sign that He gives that proves who He is. It is by this sentence that He will be later condemned to death by. Jesus was not talking about the physical temple, but the temple of His body. The temple of the Lord was the dwelling place and the house of God himself, by calling his body the temple He is claiming deity again, that the very essence of God dwells within His flesh.
C. V20, The Jews did not understand what Jesus was talking about. All they had to do was ask what Jesus meant by this, likely though they were not looking for understanding, instead they were looking for things to condemn Him with. Those who are in the flesh cannot understand the things of the Spirit, for it is foolishness to them. (1 Corinthians 2:13) It had taken 46 years to build the temple of Herod, and it would take another 19 years to finish it only for it to be destroyed a couple years later.
D. V21, The words of Jesus are here explained. The best commentary on the Bible is the Bible. If something is not to be taken literally then there will be another part of the Bible that explains it not to be taken literally. You will find the explanation either in the immediate context or in the context of the Bible as a whole. If you just take one sentence of the Bible without understanding the context you will be like the Jews, confused and wrong in their interpretation of the words of Jesus.
E. V22, From this verse we can understand that at the time the disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about either. Yet as time went on they remembered what Jesus had said and were able to understand it.
1. When you don’t understand something in the Bible ask God to teach it to you, and then store it in your heart until some day it makes sense. There has been many times that I didn’t understand a verse completely then something happened in my life and I remembered a verse and it made sense to me. Study the Word of God diligently to understand it, but store it away in your heart to guide you in the future even if you don’t understand it right away.
F. Application for the Body of Christ: We now as Christians are considered part of the Body Christ, we are part of the temple of God and we are told we are living stones, living stones that build up a spiritual house for God offering up the sacrifices of love and obedience to the Lord. God desires His temple to be holy, because holiness, in stark contrast, reveals who God is to a blind world and perishing world. May God help us and empower us to live holy lives and not to defile His temple.
IV. 2:23-25 Jesus can discern what is in our hearts
A. V23, At this time Jesus did many miracles that are not here recorded for us, and because of these signs many people believed in the power of Jesus.
B. V24-25, But Jesus knew that this belief was a superficial one. The word commit in verse 24 is the same Greek word for believed in verse 23. It is a play on words, although the people believed in Jesus, Jesus didn’t believe in them.
1. It is likely that the believed more in the power of Jesus, and not so much in who Jesus was. There is a difference. Many people believe in God and even believe in His power, but they do not commit their souls in belief to Jesus to save them from their sins, making Him their Lord and Savior.
2. Although miracles do build faith our faith cannot be based on miracles. Our faith must be based on the solid foundation of the word of God. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17. If your faith is based on the Word of God, on the scriptures, then no matter what circumstance comes, good or bad, you will still continue on in faith. If your faith is based on miracles then when the bad times comes your faith will falter, you will question God’s goodness and your Christian life will be an emotional roller coaster.
a) I have observed many in the Charismatic movement have a roller coaster type faith. Many of them only attend church for a while, they get super into it, but after a while one emotional experience is not enough. They need bigger and better looking miracles to keep following Jesus. Their faith is unstable, and many end up falling away from the Lord because it was not founded on the rock of the Word of God. God’s word does not change, our emotions and experiences do. That is why our faith must be founded on the promises of God, because the promises of God do not change.
3. Jesus didn’t need anyone to tell him about men and what was inside of them. Jesus can see into our hearts all on His own. This is a statement declares Jesus to be God, since seeing into other men’s hearts is something God alone can do. In fact we have a hard time even seeing into our own hearts, in this way Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves.
a) Jeremiah 17:9-10 “”The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, [I] test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.”
b) No one has to tell God what I am like; I don’t even have to tell God. He knows what is in my heart and yet He died for me anyway and loves me anyway. Thankfully, Jesus not only knows what is in our heart, but He can change our hearts.
A. Jesus had righteous anger when He cleansed the house of God. We learned that righteous anger is anger that is controllable, something done out of love for God, and something done out of love for others and has nothing to do with us being wronged. Righteous anger motivates us to act against that which is wrong.
B. Jesus prophesied and told them “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” He was speaking of His body, saying that His flesh had become the temple of God. We too, as Christians are now part of the body of Christ, the temple of God and are living stones. If Christ had such zeal for the earthly temple to be holy, imagine how much more He desires the spiritual temple to be holy.
C. Don’t let your faith be superficial, base it on the unchanging Word of God so that it can be strong despite your emotional mood-swings.
D. Jesus knows our hearts, and can change them.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. You are a true blessing. God used you to help me better understand “righteous anger” . And Matt, thank you for answering God’s call to missions in Cuenca.