Angry Jesus

Published by DonDavidson on

Last week we talked about “gentle Jesus,” who treated sinners with compassion and kindness. In the synoptic Gospels, we find another story that is noteworthy because of Jesus’ compassion—the story of a man with a withered hand, probably atrophied as a result of some type of paralysis.[1] Jesus encounters the man in a synagogue on the Sabbath and instructs the man to come forward before asking the assembled worshipers, “I ask you whether it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do harm, to save a life or to destroy it?”[2]

Luke tells us that “the scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse Him.”[3] Jewish regulations concerning the Sabbath at that time forbid healing on the Sabbath unless a person’s life were in danger, which was clearly not the case.

Jesus’ question was met with silence.

In Mark’s telling of the story, Jesus reacted to the people’s silence with “anger.”[4] One commentary says this was akin to righteous indignation. Jesus was angry that the people—and particularly the Jewish religious leaders—valued the sanctity of their regulations more than relieving the suffering of a fellow human being. He was angry over their lack of compassion, caring, and concern.

We see this pattern throughout the Gospels. Jesus rarely got angry, but when he did he was not angry at sinners. Instead, this is what made him angry:

business people who turned God’s sacred temple into a place to make money (and probably take advantage of worshipers);[5]

self-righteous and hypocritical religious leaders who were more devoted to their positions and their privileges than they were to God;[6] and

perhaps most of all, those who lacked compassion for people who were suffering or who had strayed from the paths of righteousness.[7]

Our role as Christians is not to judge or condemn others,[8] but to show kindness, compassion, mercy, and love. The people who angered Jesus were those who failed to do so.

[1]. See Matthew 12:9-14, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 6:6-11

[2]. Luke 6:9

[3]. Luke 6:7

[4]. Mark 3:5

[5]. Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-46, John 2:14-16

[6]. See Matthew 23:13-33 and Luke 11:39-52.

[7]. See, for example, Matthew 9:10-13 and Matthew 18:23-35.

[8]. Matthew 7:1-5, Luke 6:37


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *