15 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, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 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.'”
18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. Mark 11:15-18
This is the second part of this 3-part passage. Recall the night before this passage, He went into the temple courts looked around, and left. He knew what He had to do when He returned.
Jesus clearly made a scene in the outer courts that the leaders didn’t take kindly to. They were already looking for ways to rid themselves of Him, but this probably was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. This passage says they feared Him but he also humiliated them. Why? Because they let the common practice of buying and selling sacrifices within the confines of the temple go on, albeit in the outer courts. Leadership no doubt encouraged the activity.
What makes this part of the passage so intriguing is that it showed an outbreak of emotion directed not at the vendors necessarily, but at the leadership for permitting it to continue. This is what the Son of God got angry at: liars and cheats and those who had wanton disrespect for the house of God.
Don’t forget Jesus was still preparing His disciples for ministry because they would be called upon to do some unpleasant things. They needed to know it would be okay to display righteous anger at the appropriate times.
We may be called to do the same. This was a seemingly rare occasion for Jesus. There were a number of times He could have been outraged at how others were being treated or even how He was being treated, so tread lightly. Not everything calls for righteous anger, but some things certainly do.