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Jesus and Anger

Jesus went into the synagogue on the Sabbath and saw a man with a crippled hand. He knew that the Pharisees were watching to see what he would do, and he felt angry that they were only out to put him in the wrong. They did not care a scrap for the handicapped man, nor did they want to see the power and love of God brought to bear on him.

There were other instances where Jesus showed anger or sternness. He “sternly charged” the leper whom he had healed not to tell anyone about it (Mark 1:43) because he foresaw the problems of being pursued by a huge crowd of thoughtless people who were interested only in seeing miracles and not in his teaching. But the leper disobeyed and so made things very hard for Jesus.

Jesus showed anger again when the disciples tried to send away the mothers and their children (Mark 10:13-16). He was indignant and distressed at the way the disciples were thwarting his loving purposes and giving the impression that he did not have time for ordinary people.

He showed anger once more when he drove “out those who sold and those who bought in the temple” (Mark 11:15-17). God’s house of prayer was being made into a den of thieves and God was not being glorified -- hence Jesus’ angry words and deeds. Commenting on this, Warfield wrote: “A man who cannot be angry, cannot be merciful.” The person who cannot be angry at things which thwart God’s purposes and God’s love toward people is living too far away from his fellow men ever to feel anything positive towards them.

Finally, at Lazarus’ grave Jesus showed not just sympathy and deep distress for the mourners (John 11:33-35), but also a sense of angry outrage at the monstrosity of death in God’s world. This is the meaning of “deeply moved” in John 11:38.

Your Father Loves You, by James Packer, (Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986), page for December 29

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