Tired mama, I don’t know about you, but I struggle with my temper most days.
I can sense my blood pressure rising as I repeat myself yet again, trying to break through to an audience I adore.
And in these moments where frustration and love collide, I think of Jesus.
Jesus was sinless, but He still got angry.
This doesn’t give us permission to raise our voices at the kiddos each time we’re scrambling to get out the door, BUT it does suggest this emotion is not sinful in itself. Jesus got angry.
Jesus’ actions that Monday of Holy Week remind us why our sin had to be punished before it was pardoned.
Let‘s take a trip back to that special Monday. The day that followed His elaborate welcome to Jerusalem, when a hungry Jesus curses a fig tree because it was without fruit.
I’ll admit this part of the story catches me off guard at first. I know Jesus is hungry. And when we read on, we find out He uses this tree to display His power.
But let‘s slow down and glance back at what Jesus says in Matthew 7:17-20 as He wraps up His Sermon on the Mount.
“A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”
Perhaps, we can begin to reconcile Jesus’ condemnation when we look back to His earlier warning to us in this sermon. He uses the tree to give us a real life example of God’s judgment.
Trees play a significant role in God’s plan.
I think back to God‘s command in the Garden of Eden. I think of the judgment that followed when Adam and Eve chose their own way and rebelled. Their relationship with God was broken. And all humanity would bear the consequences of this original sin.
Friends, this punishment is a result of righteous anger. This same righteous anger over sin that would soon be atoned by our Savior Jesus, nailed to a tree on Calvary.
Let’s continue on and find out what comes after the fig tree encounter.
“On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts 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.’”
Again, we have Jesus - both fully God and fully man - demonstrating His will for obedience and justice. His will for the church to look and act like the church. He was convicting people like me, who should’ve known better. Yet, they sinned anyway.
I believe Jesus is reminding us God doesn’t only get sad over our sin. He hates it.
There’s no way for us to teach our children about Jesus without explaining He loves sinners, but He hates what dishonors and abhors God.
This is why He came. Jesus is our atoning Lamb. He came to teach us how to live and love God and how to repent and break free from sin.
And He says He will know us by the trust in our hearts, which will act out in the lives we lead. The seeds we scatter. The fruit that grows.
As we approach Easter Sunday, I hope we will spend some time wrestling with the tension between loving God and people and hating sin. We’ve been called to teach our children what the Bible tells us about integrity and respect and marriage and parenting and friendship and serving and stewardship and worship and all the things. Because the Bible tells us about all of it.
We cannot say we follow Jesus and willingly, habitually engage in behavior that dishonors God. It’s a choice every person makes. And a repentant heart will reveal our decision.
We must remember WE are the temple of the Living God.
We will not be sinless. But we are called to follow Jesus and ask Him to help us sin less.
There’s no Gospel without the part about our sin being punished and pardoned. That sin is my sin. And I cannot accept the gift of salvation if I’m not heartbroken over my role in this story.
Mama, I know how heavy it all can feel. All the temptations out there. All the threats and influences and guilt and things we cannot control.
But we can ask God to help us model repentance and do our best to train up our children to know the truth about what God says is right and wrong.
And life will be so much more fruitful if we chose to live God’s way.
Lord, humble us to address our sin nature today. I pray you will draw us to Your Word and show us what Your Better Way looks like. Help us to be gentle with those who disagree with us. You remind us it is right to get angry at a world that rejects You, mocks You, misrepresents You and tries to make You little.
Help us to express our hearts in love and point our families and our friends to Your Word to find truth. Make us bold in our belief. Position us to lead those around us closer to You.
We’re looking forward to Easter, Lord!!
Jesus, come soon!!