February 3, 2014

Angry Jesus

I have such vivid childhod memories of the story of the angry Jesus. FlannelGraph Jesus with a stern brow, overturning tables, letting the coins fly, sending men and animals scattering. Jesus has a temper, we all learned. Don't make him mad.

In high school, I was selling bags of candy for some fundraiser at school. Giant candy bars, fifty cents each, all to fund the winter formal dance. I took my inventory to youth group on a Wednesday night, knowing this was the great market I needed: hungry teenagers with a couple of quarters in their pockets, all who were off the grid of my high school community where we girls were saturating the market, offering the same students and teachers the same menu day after day.

But my friend John stopped me in the parking lot. "Tricia, don't you understand that Jesus overturned the tables in the church for a decision like the one you're about to make? I don't think you should do it. Don't sell candy tonight."

I'm still not sure if I made the right decision, and I truly don't care anymore. It seems like a legalistic move in retrospect, but I didn't sell my candy that night.

And I probably claimed some lofty reason, such as I didn't want to cause someone else to stumble, just in case buying a KitKat coiuld totally compromise one's worship with idolatry.

Anyway, this is not why I write this story.

I write today because I read the story and noticed something new, which is absolutely my favorite thing about reading the Bible. It's like it's somehow always consistent and yet never the same book twice.

Jesus tore through the temple, thrashing his homemade whip all around, setting animals free and letting gold and silver coins fall to the ground in a loud clatter. The indignant salespeople of the temple said to him, "What authority do you have to do all of this?"

And Jesus, ever speaking in riddles, said, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."

I picture their response: "Whatever. Clearly he knows nothing. It has taken 46 years to build this place, and we're not tearing it down on a whim."

But that's not what he meant. He wasn't referring to the temple they had built, but the temple that He is. The temple that is his body. The one that would raise from the grave three days after they were sure he was gone for good.

Here's the part I noticed for the first time:

"After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken."

After he was raised from the dead, they believed the words he had spoken. Which simply leads me to conclude that they weren't all in when he was teaching them. They had some questions.

I feel two things I consider this:

I'm okay with my questions. I feel comfortable with them. I'm willing to let them sit here beside me, wander in my mind, and even keep me awake at night.

And I also know that God is planting seeds around me that I won't even know about until later. Later, I will look back and think, "Yes! It makes sense now! That's what he was telling me way back then, when something caught my attention but I didn't know what it meant."

God, let me not miss the things you want me to see today, even if they don't make sense to me now. I think you'll use them later, so that when more of your story is told, I will remember, I will believe, and I will know you are who you are.

2 comments on “Angry Jesus”

  1. Learning to sit with my questions - to be okay that they exist open-ended and unresolved - has brought me so much freedom and peace. It's exhausting to feel like you have to have an answer for everything! And it causes me to come to God like a student asking for test answers from her teacher instead of like a daughter coming to her Father. I'm so grateful Jesus's grace for his disciples and us is big enough to encompass all of our questions, unanswered though they may remain.

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