Easter 2024 - Day 3: Emotions and Indignation

…they were indignant… Matthew 21:15

The religious leaders of Israel had always been set against Jesus, but the day after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He gave them some further motivation. This is the day Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple. There were those who sat at tables and exchanged Roman currency for the required Jewish half-shekel and there were those who sat and sold doves or pigeons - a poor man's sacrifice Ex 30:11-16/Lev 14:22. It had become a lucrative business for everyone involved and there was no shortage of price gouging or taking advantage of the poor. While this conduct will always be repulsive to God, the greater issue was the temple's purpose in comparison with what it had become. Jesus did not go down to the marketplace and drive out the merchants, although He would certainly find plenty of dishonesty on those scales. No, Jesus went to the temple and as He drove out those buyers and sellers, He said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Mt 21:13 And once the temple was cleansed of what did not belong there, He invited that which did belong there; the blind and lame came to Him there in the temple, and He healed them. And we are told that when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things He did, they were indignant. Indignant is not a word we hear much in modern English. The Greek word is ἀγανακτέω pronounced ag·an·ak·teh·o. It signifies “feeling a violent irritation, physically”. It’s the same word used for when wine ferments in the pouch and the pressure violently blows the bag apart. Yep, they were pretty upset at Jesus and the cork was about to pop. What can we learn from these religious yet indignant people?

The first thing is this; Jesus did "wonderful" things and they were indignant about it Mt 21:15. Sometimes anger is warranted but it is always wise to get the facts before popping your cork. A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. Pr 29:11. Perhaps the foolish man’s house fell with a great crash because anger was often lord over his house Mt 7:24.

As believers we ought to be careful to investigate things before we speak or act. Things are often not what they appear. Wonderful acts in God's eyes, may appear to be sinful without all the facts, such as driving people out of the temple. This is especially true when we view things through our own sin corrupted lens. Develop a habit of running to God when you are hurt or bothered by something that seems wrong or even sinful. Is there an old log in your eye that may cause you to see things inaccurately Mt 7:4? The fact that you are offended does not mean that a sin has been committed.

Another lesson we might glean is this; when our priorities do not line up with God's priorities, God may very well come in and clean house. "My house will be called a house of prayer." The temple made of stone by human hands is obsolete and you a born-again believer, are now the temple of the Holy Spirit 2Co 6:16/1Co 6:19. You are His house. You therefore are a house of prayer… but what have you made it? We can become quite indignant when fighting to keep our house for our purposes. Someone will come along and suggest a need for change and oh boy! Here they are doing wonderful things and we are indignant toward them. Man’s anger does not bring God’s righteous results- but prayer can Jam 1:20. Things get to the point of indignation when we continually let the sun go down on our anger without getting it to God Ep 4:26. Few things are as damaging to your prayer life as anger that has become bitterness. Amazing isn't it, if the religious leaders would have used their temple for its intended purpose, they would not have become indignant with Jesus.

As we move toward Resurrection Sunday start intentionally building your house into a house of prayer. Begin with confession of misusing your temple and repent by coming into agreement with God concerning the purpose and priority of His blood bought temple (a house of prayer). Bring any anger that you are aware of to the throne of grace and turn your attention to Jesus Christ, His death, burial and resurrection for you.
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