Recently one of my kids was telling me a story and somehow we got onto the point of angry reactions. "Hey, Jesus even flipped tables," Kiddo said and I cringed. I think a lot of people have heard that story and they misinterpreted it.
In case you aren't familiar with the story here's a brief paraphrase. Jesus heads to the temple, there are people there who are making it all about money, money, money. They are taking advantage of people, charging them more than they should, things like that. Jesus is angry because this is His Father's house. This is a place that supposed to be reserved for worship of God and at that time the ordained sacrifices. He was angry that they were taking advantage of people, overcharging and pretty much getting their greedy hooks in something that was supposed to be for a pure purpose. Jesus had the best reason to be angry. He flipped tables and ran them off.
(Read the passage for yourself: Matthew 21:12-13 "And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, 'It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you are making it a robber's den.'")
Some people use this passage as an excuse for angry behavior but I think we're missing the bigger picture. First, I think this passage was given to us as an example of the "Be angry, and yet do not sin" verse from Ephesians 4:26. We are able to look at this verse and see that even though Jesus was so angry that he was flipping tables, he didn't actually hurt anyone, he broke no commandments.
The biggest thing that I want everyone to take away from this would be THE REASON that Jesus was angry and flipping those tables. He was made BECAUSE people were changing the purpose of the house of worship and taking advantage of it with greed and theft and dishonest behavior.
To me, instead of thinking "Oh, Jesus got so made he was flipping tables, so it's okay if I go all crazy mad over something too," we shouldn't put it into that perspective. Instead we should think of all of the other examples of Jesus behavior. How many times did he forgive those who were against him, teach us to turn the other cheek, tell us to even pray for those who are against us? He didn't say that we should flip tables on everyone, instead he emphasized a gentle forgiving love and loving our enemy. This was mentioned a lot more than flipping tables.
Instead, are we getting angry over the right things? Jesus let a lot of things go. He didn't get mad anytime someone did anything to him. He said this was a part of it. It's going to happen, don't let it get to you. Instead of getting mad over every little thing, we can look at the example of Jesus. If I'm not mistaken, I think the flipping tables is the only time he really got angry. He only got angry when it was over the most important thing of all: the purity of the church and worship of God. Not just because he got a little angry that someone he knew was saying some stuff he didn't like or other trivial things that we let get to us.
We need to train ourselves to evaluate each situation. Which are the right tables to flip and when it's better to just walk away.