I’ve been wondering if Jesus was angry when he was cleansing the temple. If he was, then how would it be sinless? I’m not doubting his righteousness, he was sinless. But I’m probably not understanding the full concept. Was he angry? Was he trying to teach us that it’s okay to use force at times? I need some understanding.
Dear Confused Priest,
Though often we think of anger as a sin, and it can be, there are times when anger is an appropriate response. Pres. Hinckley said it this way:
“Anger may be justified in some circumstances. The scriptures tell us that Jesus drove the moneychangers from the temple, saying, “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:13).
But even this was spoken more as a rebuke than as an outburst of uncontrolled anger.” Slow to Anger
Some Biblical scholars believe that Jesus was angry because poor people were being taken advantage of. Many of them had traveled long distances and needed to buy a sacrificial animal. The people selling the animals were taking an unfair advantage. Before they could buy an animal they needed to exchange their money (with Cesar’s imprint) to temple money, and the money changers were also cheating people.
But the Savior was not in any way “out of control”. He saw something wrong and He spoke to them in the manner that was necessary to get their attention. Imagine if He had approached them calmly, with a smile and said, “Stop what you are doing.” Would any take him seriously? No.
The reason we are often warned about anger is that, unlike the Savior, our anger is not always justified, and sometimes it gets out of control. When our anger is out of control we can say and do things that hurt others. The Savior did what was necessary to gain control of the situation, and no more.
Yes, it is necessary to use force at times. Can you imagine Captain Moroni walking on to the battlefield with a smile and a friendly voice saying, “I’d like you all to put your swords down please.” However, in our daily lives, for most of us those times where anger would be justified are likely pretty rare, and times we need to use force even more so. As with all things, follow the Spirit.