An old meme has been circulating again. The caption reads:
Me: *Losing at Monopoly* What would Jesus do?
Underneath the caption is a picture of Jesus flipping the tables in the temple, a familiar scene to many people as it is not only found in all four of the New Testament gospels, but it is the most vivid picture of Jesus’ anger that we have from his earthly ministry. The meme adds levity to a weighty historical account, even if it wildly distorts the source and reason of Jesus’ anger.
As readers, we tend to be more familiar with a compassionate, gentle, patient Jesus. A Jesus who flips tables, shouts, and drives people out of a temple with a whip he made with his own hands; well, that can be shocking, discordant, and disturbing.
Why exactly was Jesus so angry? An overlooked detail in the story might reveal to us that Jesus’ heart was not only inflamed for pure worship and justice, but that his anger also came from a deeply personal place. Such an interpretation of this account would give instruction to us on how we relate to the poor and the oppressed, as well as how we take sides for justice in our communities.