If we believe that Jesus was sinless how do you explain him angrily driving the moneychangers out of the temple?

John’s Gospel describes Jesus forming a “whip of cords” (John 2:15) and using it to drive out them out of the temple. How can we reconcile Jesus’ apparent anger with the notion of anger being a deadly sin? First, we don’t know that Jesus was angry. We do not have a description of his inner state of mind. What we do have is a description of bold behavior – fierce action. There is a difference between being angry and being fierce. In fact, Jesus’ disciples describe his actions in this scene as reminiscent of a passage from Scripture: “Zeal for thy house will consume me.” (Psalm 69:10) In other words, the disciples characterized Jesus’ demeanor as being zealous, not angry. Finally, for those who dismiss this line of argument as mere semantics, we can still conclude that Jesus’ anger, if indeed it is anger, is not designed to bring harm to the money-changers nor is it motivated by hatred or a need for vengeance. In other words, anger that is righteous, properly channeled, and not driven by hatred is not considered sinful. Being angry is not, in and of itself, sinful. When anger leads to actions that hurt others, either physically or verbally, then we have ventured into the realm of sin.

Joe Paprocki

Joe Paprocki, D.Min., is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press in Chicago. He has over 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Joe is the author of numerous books on pastoral ministry and catechesis, including The Bible Blueprint, Living the Mass, and bestsellers The Catechist's Toolbox and A Well-Built Faith (all from Loyola Press).


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