Peter Kreeft says, “Christ was the toughest and tenderest man who ever lived.”
It’s true, but sometimes, we fall into the trap of thinking Jesus was just a really nice guy. We can confuse His meekness with passivity. Jesus is not passive or nice. Today, we see this on display when very early in John’s Gospel, Jesus is filled with righteous anger and a zealous desire to protect His Father’s home.
To anyone who has ever been abused, vandalized, mocked, cheated, know that Christ’s heart burns with righteous anger at your wounds. To anyone who has ever longed for help in the face of slander, Christ desires to fiercely defend you. To anyone struggling with habitual sin, remember God doesn’t flip tables when we have repentant hearts.
But repentant hearts aren’t found in today’s Gospel. God responds to unchecked self-righteousness, arrogance, irreverence, greed, judgment, and superiority with actively righteous anger— correcting the wrong and hoping people move to conversion.
Perhaps, we should ask ourselves a few questions. Is there any part of my life in which I’m unwilling to be moved? Am I entering rest and prayer on the Sabbath? Am I avoiding the hard work of interior examination? Do I abuse any of God’s gifts of creation for my own selfish purposes? Is there any situation where I passively allow injustice? If I’m involved in ministry, is there any part in which I delight in my own glory? Is there anyone I look down upon?
As you look at the sinful patterns of your life with Jesus, may you recognize your sin is not your identity. Ask for the zeal of Christ’s righteous anger to overcome it. Christ is fearless and will fight to protect all that is sacred, including us, from our own human nature. May we have the grace to know this side of Jesus and imitate Him all the more.
Michaela Barta is a speaker, writer, dancer, and Theology of the Body enthusiast. She currently works as a Young Adult Minister and Dance Instructor in Houston, TX trying to be moved and move others to love beauty, truth, and goodness.