Are you angry, want to smash in pieces some furniture, TVs and computers, but are afraid of the consequences? Come to the Anger Room – a place where nine-to-fivers can unleash their anger.
Dallas, TX, a city that today I am discovering is the home to many angry people. Anger Room is a business in a small strip mall where angry people can act on their emotions to destroy old TVs, computers – and even furniture – pulled from dumpsters or donated. The five-minute session is called “I Need a Break” and costs twenty-five dollars. “Lash Out” lasts fifteen minutes and costs forty-five and, for those whose anger has true stamina, the twenty-five minute session is called “Total Demolition” and will set you back seventy-five dollars. As Christians, we are familiar with Jesus’ words, “be angry and do not sin.” But only the Spirit of Christ can give us the discernment necessary to know when our anger produces sin and when it honors Him.
Open- The Good Shepherd- Fernando Ortega- From “Come Down O Love Divine”
Understanding Jesus is the single most important thing that we can ever do. Understanding Jesus can transform the reality we live in. Let me share with you a few verses. Mark 11, I’ll start at verse 11 and let’s just read a few together. “On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them he said, ‘Is it not written, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations”? But you have made it a den of robbers.’ The chief priests and the teachers of the law looked at this and began looking for a way to kill him for they feared him because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city. In the morning as they went along they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and he said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered.’” That’s Mark 11:11-21. Jesus is angry. What is it that’s fueling his anger? I think a lot of us get uncomfortable when we read these verses. I know I have in the past. Jesus doesn’t seem like himself. It seems like he’s just maybe in a bad mood, like he’s just lost his temper when he drove those people out of the temple. Was he just in a bad mood? Wow, better steer clear of Jesus today, he’s touchy. Are you like that Jesus? Of course he isn’t like that. Jesus’ anger isn’t the same as our anger. It’s not petty or self-centered or out of control. Jesus isn’t like that so what’s going on here. What’s fueling the anger of Jesus? Well for one thing it was the buying and selling going on in the temple. People would come to offer sacrifice to God but first their animals had to be examined for flaws and approved by a priest. Sometimes they’d come a long way and when they got there their animals would be rejected. Any good entrepreneur would see this is a golden opportunity. Why not sell people pre-approved, sacrificial animals? We’ll save everyone a lot of trouble and we’ll make a little profit in the process. And then there was the temple tax everyone had to pay. Here was the hitch: only Palestinian half sheckels were accepted, thus the money changers. They functioned like a bank. They would exchange foreign currency into acceptable coinage and they would break down larger coins into smaller ones and of course, they charged a fee to do it. Well, Jesus walks in and what he sees is not a little, honest business transaction going on here, he sees exploitation. He sees people’s need for God, their need to bring a sacrifice to God being used to making a buck. Of course the sellers could argue they were just providing a service and seeking an honest profit, but Jesus didn’t see it that way. He sees exploitation. He sees the needs of his people being used to put money in someone else’s pockets and it makes him mad. But I think it goes deeper than that. I think the real clue to what’s fueling Jesus’ anger is in the passage he quotes from Isaiah, “Is it not written, ‘My house will be a house of prayer for all nations,’?” The real reason Jesus is angry is because of his deep commitment to making the temple what his Father wants it to be. He knows what his Father wants his house to be. He knows the time has arrived for his Father’s house to become what he wants it to be. He knows that his Father has sent him to make his house what he wants it to be and he knows that it was all predicted long before by the prophet Isaiah. Jesus is angry because of the huge discrepancy between what his Father wants his house to be and what these religious leaders have turned it into. So what does God want his temple to be? Jesus tells us, “My house will be a house of prayer for all nations.” Here’s the context of the quote from Isaiah 56, “God says, ‘Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, “the Lord will surely separate me from his people.” Nor let the eunuch say, “Behold I am a dry tree.” To them I will give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name better than that of sons and daughters. I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off. Also, the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord to minister to him and to love the name of the Lord, even those I will bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar for my house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.’” That’s the quote that Jesus picked up. Those words drip with the compassion of God don’t they? Eunuchs and foreigners, they were excluded from the temple under Levitical law. Here in Isaiah though, God is rising up and saying, “They will no longer be excluded from my house. I’m going to bring them to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer. The things they offer me, their sacrifices, I’m going to make them acceptable to me. My temple is going to be for all peoples, people of every nation.” Do you hear the heart of God coming through? That’s the heart of Jesus. Jesus and his Father’s hearts beat as one. Jesus is fueled by the compassion of his Father. He’s fueled by his Father’s zeal to take down all barriers. He knows the hour has come for this to happen and he’s angry when he comes into the temple and he sees the barriers the religious leaders have erected. They’ve made his Father’s house into a den of robbers. They’ve made it a matter of money. Money! A barrier to the presence of God, it’s so opposite of what his Father wants. Listen to Isaiah 55:1 and 2. These are the words Jesus quoted when he stood up in the temple during the Feast of Dedication, “Come, all who are thirsty, come to the waters and you who have no money, come buy and eat. Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me and eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” Did you hear the heart of Jesus? It’s all summed up in that one word: come. You, who have no money, come buy anything you want, have it all. What a contrast to the scene in the temple where you had to go through a maze of approvals and dig deep into your pockets before you could even enter. Jesus came to remove the exclusions and to open up his Father’s house to the nations, to Gentiles, to sinners, and there are no taxes to pay. In the very first Gospel, Matthew 17, Peter was anxious because the Pharisees had demanded to know if his master paid the temple tax. Jesus asked him – Peter – “The kings of this world, who do they tax, their subjects or their sons?” And Peter said, “Their subjects.” Jesus said, “Then the sons are exempt.” We’re not subjects, we’re sons. Jesus has made us sons and daughters of God who is the King, who doesn’t tax his children. He puts a ring on their hands and drapes robes around their shoulders. Jesus wanted to remove Peter’s anxiety and he wants to remove ours too. Jesus came to bring grace and that’s what his Father wants his house to be, a house of grace. In the 4th Gospel, John, when he clears the temple, Jesus tells the Pharisees, “Tear down this temple and I’ll build it up in 3 days.” John tells us he was talking about his body. What does this mean? It means that when Jesus died he tore down the old house. He built a new one where anyone can come in for free, right into the very presence of God as a son of God. Why did it take his death on a cross to do this? Because our sin is the ultimate barrier and it took his death to tear it down. Our sin is the ultimate debt and it took his death to pay it off and tear up the note for good. John says that after his death his disciples understood what was in Jesus’ heart when he cleared out the money changers. He quotes these words to explain it. “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Zeal for the Father’s house was what was in his heart and it consumed him. Zeal for us was in his heart and it consumed him. Anger fueled by love and compassion for us, that’s what consumed him. One last thing about the great story, the most important thing: see the heart of Jesus for you. Hear him standing on the resurrection side of the cross with his arms wide open inviting you to come. See how angry he was with everything that stood in your way and how it consumed him to remove the barriers. Don’t let anything stand in your way, just come.
Close—Your Masterpiece- Ashmont Hill
This is Haven Today and the program’s called, “When Anger is Good”. We heard the story of Jesus getting angry at the temple. We’ve shared stories together here on this program and we asked a long time Haven listener, in fact she started listening when we were “Haven of Rest”, Carla Heart. We asked her to share her story with us.
“Oh this is a story about my precious daughter Kimberly who’s now Kimberly Cleary, she’s 29 years old. When she was 5 we were going down the road listening to Haven of Rest which was my usual thing to do at 10:00 in the morning because I loved Haven so much and it fed my soul so much. And Kimberly was intently listening, as I was intently listening and she heard the speaker talking to people and telling them how to invite the Lord into their lives and how to become Christians. And Kimberly in her sweet little 5 year old voice said, “Momma, isn’t everybody a Christian?” And I thought in my mind, “Oh, no they aren’t.” And she said, “Well, I want to become one!” I just had this wonderful picture in my mind of how I was going to lead my precious, darling daughter to the Lord and it was not in the backseat of a brown Volkswagen Rabbit. And I just thought, “Oh, Lord I don’t want to lead her here!” And the Lord very gently said to me, “Carla, let her come to me!” And I said, “OK,” and so I lead her in a sweet little 5 year old prayer to the Lord and that was that. And we said amen and then I looked in the rear view mirror to see how she was responding and her little eyes were very, very tightly closed and she was saying her own little prayer because Momma’s prayer, I guess, wasn’t good enough. And now she’s 29 years old and still following the Lord and loving the Lord very much. She’s leading a group called, “The Core” which was her dream come true. Her dream was a safe place to hang out when she was in Jr. High School and High School. And there weren’t very many places like that except church and she knew that not everybody wanted to come to church. And she would invite some people, but she wanted a place other than church for kids to hang out that was safe. And so she started “The Core” in 2002 and it’s now been going for over 5 years and so all of these wonderful things started with Haven of Rest talking about the Lord on the radio. And thank you for letting me speak.”
Thank you Carla for sharing your story with us and the story about your daughter who’s now involved in ministry and you sound like a very proud mother and I would be too, if I were you. Isn’t it wonderful when the Lord just comes into the life of someone, in particular a child?
(Fernando instrumental underneath prayer)
Join me in prayer, would you, right now?
Father, this invitation is there for us to come to you, all of us who are thirsty, to just come to the waters, come to this river for our souls. Those of us who have no money, we can still buy and eat and buy wine and milk without money, without cost. And why do we need even to spend money on what is not bread, your word says, and labor on what does not satisfy? Lord would you give ear and come to me, would you listen to me? Would you give us the richest of fare that comes as we drink this living water from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? May we all seek the Lord today while he may be found and call on him while he is near? May we forsake all evil ways and evil thoughts that we entertain? Let us all turn to the Lord and receive mercy and may we be freely pardoned because of Jesus Christ dying for us on the cross? And I pray this now in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Come Down, O Love Divine
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After 5 years Fernando Ortega teams up again with producer John Andrew Schreiner for his new album Come Down, O Love Divine.This lush album is complete with 14 songs and features a full choir ensemble to accompany Fernando's vocals and arrangements....
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