Mark 11 paints a rare picture of Jesus, a time where he showed anger instead of mercy. Or did he?
Certainly, the anger was there, as we read:
They came to Jerusalem, and he went into the temple and began to throw out those buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple. He was teaching them: “Is it not written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?’ But you have made it ‘a den of thieves.'” (Mark 11:15-17)
What we see in these verses is a foretaste of final judgment and judgment will be a time of mercy and wrath.
The problem in the temple was the robbing of the poor. As pilgrims, often of the poorer social class, came with their offerings, they would be checked to make sure they were of high enough quality to meet the demands of the law. If not, the offerings could be traded in for a markup, of course. And a high number of offerings were deemed to not meet the standards.
In other words, those conducting such business and the leaders who approved were profiting off of the sacrifices people brought to offer to God. Not only were the rich robbing the poor, they were introducing barriers to true worship.
So, while Jesus acted in anger against the thieves and swindlers, he acted in compassion toward those being robbed. Thus, as it is often stated, Jesus cleansed the temple, to remove the bad so the good could stand.
That is the ultimate purpose of final judgment. God will not forever allow sin and its corruption to exist in the creation that he declared good. He has his purposes for withholding judgment for now, so that more will be rescued from their sin (Matthew 13:36-43). But the day will come where that wait will be over.
Jesus, in his return, will rush into the world, bring an end to all sin, and make all things new. The evil will be cleansed away, an act of wrath. And only good will remain, an act of mercy.
This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2020 Bible Reading Calendar. All Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible.