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Turning the tables

Exploring the character of JesusExploring anger and its links with justice

by Jill Fuller

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To explore the character of Jesus. To explore anger and its links with justice.

Preparation and materials

  • Choose and prepare for reading or re-telling a version from one of the four Gospels of Jesus turning over the tables in the Temple. In Matthew 21.12-14 and Luke 19.45-48 this event appears as one of the incidents during the week before Good Friday which is customarily called Holy Week today. In Mark 11.15-19 and John 2.13-17, the story is positioned nearer the beginning of Jesus' ministry. Use an easy-to-understand version such as the Good News Bible, or a children's Bible may offer a helpful alternative version. The GNB version from Luke is included below.

Assembly

  1. Ask the children if they have ever been really angry. Ask them to share one or two experiences. Is there a difference between being angry because we can't get our own way and being angry because something really isn't right or fair? Can they think of a story when Jesus was angry?

  2. Explain that the following story probably happened during the week leading up to Easter. Remind the children that Jesus had just entered Jerusalem on a donkey. Crowds of people came to see him and cheered him as a hero. Many powerful people were worried about how popular Jesus had become and some didn't like his teaching.

  3. Explain that the Temple in Jerusalem was a place of pilgrimage, especially at the time of the Passover. People would bring offerings, often of animals, as symbols of thanksgiving or of sorrow for past sins. These animals could be bought at the entrance to the Temple. It seems likely that the people who sold the animals, the money-lenders or merchants of the story, were charging too much and cheating the poor. Jesus may have heard about this, although that is not recorded in the Gospels. Ask the children to listen carefully to the story and think about the following:

    How they think Jesus is feeling.
    What Jesus does.
    What he says.

  4. Read the story or tell it in your own words.

    Then Jesus went into the Temple and began to drive out the merchants, saying to them, 'It is written in the Scriptures that God said, "My Temple will be a house of prayer." But you have turned it into a hideout for thieves!' Every day Jesus taught in the Temple. The chief priests, the teachers of the Law, and the leaders of the people wanted to kill him, but they could not find a way to do it, because all the people kept listening to him, not wanting to miss a single word. (Luke 19.45-48, GNB)
  5. Ask the children:

    How do you think Jesus was feeling?
    What did he do?
    What did he say?

    Was Jesus putting himself in danger by expressing his anger? Discuss whether the children are surprised to hear a story in which Jesus expresses anger. Why do they think he was angry? Are there times when it is right to show we are angry? Is it right to be angry about injustice or unfairness? What was Jesus trying to change by his anger?

Time for reflection

Think about a time when you have been angry. Was it right to be angry?

God of all creation,
Help us as we try to understand all our feelings.
Help us to recognize when we are angry
and to see when things we do or say make other people angry.
Help us to see the difference between anger that is selfish
and anger that seeks justice for others or ourselves.
Help us to choose our actions with care, courage and love.
Amen.

Song/music

'To everything turn, turn, turn' (Come and Praise, 113)

Acknowledgements

Scriptures quoted from the Good News Bible published by The Bible Societies/HarperCollins Publishers Ltd UK © American Bible Society, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992.

Publication date: March 2002   (Vol.4 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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