Movie of the Week: Jesus Christ Superstar by Norman Jewison 1973
Clip: 35:50 – 38:50 “The Temple”
Old Testament: Amos 5:10-13
New Testament: Matthew 21: 12-17
If there is one moment in Jesus’ life that seems at least a little out of step with the rest of it, it’s when he clears out the temple. I think the scene and song from Jesus Christ Superstar helps illustrate the angst of the scene. I’m sure we’ve all wondered at some point in our reading of the Gospels: How angry was Jesus? How did he confront the sin in the temple without sinning himself? How did he stay in control? Did he do it with a smile on his face?
I’m not sure we will ever have a satisfactory answer to any of these questions (except that he didn’t sin), but it is helpful to use the Ignatian exercise of contemplation to consider these things. To imagine being there and watching him turn the tables – to see the anger in his face. The episode in Jesus’ life helps us consider “holy anger.” Throughout the Bible, there are warnings against our losing control and remaining angry with others. Paul famously warned in Ephesians 4:26 (NIV): “In your anger, do not sin.” Anger is an exhausting emotion. Our personalities, backgrounds, and principles drive our anger in different directions. We get angry about different things. Today is a day to consider what drives our anger. Are we angry at the things that God is angry at? Do we waste our emotion of anger on trivial matters? Bad calls at sporting events? Political arguments? Worship preferences?
Or, do we allow the holiness of God to drive our anger? Are we driven by flippant approaches to God that, in the Old Testament, led to being struck dead? Are we fueled by the lack of prayer life and spiritual discipline of God’s people? Are we frustrated by televangelists and prosperity Gospels that twist Scriptures to tantalize itching ears?
Anger is an extreme emotion and we want to ensure that when we express that emotion, it is for godly purposes. Begin a period of contemplation by listening to this recording of the song (based on the words of Psalm 51) “Create in Me a Clean Heart.” As God purifies your heart, consider the things in your life that would anger God. What are the things he would drive out of your temple?