Jesus’ anger


I have a problem with anger.

Those who know me will be surprised by that confession, for they never hear me yell or curse; they never see me stomp about or kick the dog or throw a fit.  I don’t get angry like that.

My problem with anger is that I feel guilty about being angry.  I have internalized the opinion that anger is wrong, that good Christians shouldn’t get angry, that I should always be able to accept and be content with everything.  The problem is that my opinion about anger does not match what Jesus reveals to us about the character of God.  The problem is that I have convinced myself to live in a way that does not match the way Jesus lived.

The gospels give evidence of times in which Jesus got angry—and not one of those times did He apologize for it.  Each time, His anger is presented as the right response in the situation.  Apparently, from a Biblical perspective, anger at times is the proper response, the godly reaction.

In Mark 3:1-6, Jesus was in a synagogue on a Sabbath day, and a man with a “shriveled hand” was there too.  Some who were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus were watching closely to see if Jesus would heal the man or the Sabbath.  Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”  In response to His question, they made no response.  They refused to answer.  They “remained silent.”  At that, Jesus “looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’  He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.”

Why was He angry?

Benjamin Warfield observes, “The fundamental psychology of anger is curiously illustrated by this account; for anger always has pain as its root, and is a reaction of the soul against what gives it discomfort.”

According to Warfield, Jesus was angry because His soul was discomforted or distressed over the cold-heartedness of people to the need of this man.

In this case, anger was the reaction of a soul that was stirred to discomfort or distress.  Not to be angry in this situation would be to have a heart that was comfortable with overlooking a person’s need.  Not to be angry in this situation would be a lack of concern for a person who was suffering.

The choice here seems to have been a choice between indifference and anger.  Jesus chose anger that flowed from the depth of His care for this man.  Sadly, my fear of anger has often resulted in the practice of indifference.

The truth is that it has often been those who were willing to get mad at injustice or who are willing to get mad about the agony others are going through who have jumped into the battle for justice and into the struggle to care for the needy, and who have made a difference for the good in the lives of people.  Whereas those of us who are afraid of anger have settled for indifference and allowed pain and injustice to continue on.


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