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Jesus asked them [the Pharisees], “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save a life or to kill” but they remained silent. He 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.”

Mark 3:4-5 (NIV)

To set the stage for this interaction, right after telling the Pharisees that he is Lord of the Sabbath in Mark 2, Jesus arrives at the synagogue and sees a man with a shriveled hand and the Pharisees who were lying in wait for Jesus to make a mistake. Jesus tells the man to stand up and then looks at the Pharisees, knowing their hearts, and asks them if it’s lawful to do good and save a life, or to do evil and kill.

They remain silent.

Jesus gets angry.

This story was originally told in the Greek, and the word Anger that was used is transliterated as, orgē which can be translated as; he was impulsively wrathful, or indignant. This wrath caused by injustice is in the “Aorist’” tense, which means it’s temporary, it exists and then goes away. Jesus has an emotional reaction to their silence – and it’s justified. And I think this shows us there’s nothing inherently wrong with anger, it’s what we do with it – how we respond to it, if we let it control us – that makes it right or wrong. As Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:26 (NLT), “Don’t sin by letting anger control you.”

Jesus takes this, orgē, this anger, mixed with disappointment, mixed with sadness at the hardness of the hearts of the Pharisees, and tells the man to stretch out his hand and Jesus restores the shriveled hand to the way it should have been.

Mark tells us that in response to Jesus healing the man, the Pharisees began plotting about how to, “do away with” Jesus. The phrase “do away with” doesn’t begin to describe the unfettered rage they felt. In the Greek the phrase is, “apollymi” which means “to utterly destroy,” “to bring to naught,” or “to be made void.”

These are two complete opposite responses.

Jesus’ response made the world a better place – it brought healing, life, and restoration. The Pharisees responded with a fierce vengeance whose result would be to completely destroy Jesus.

How we respond to anger, injustice, and evil in the world matters. We must follow Jesus’ example:

  1. Jesus acknowledged that which needed to be changed and shined a light on it in a non-condemnatory way when he asked the man to step forward.
  2. Jesus asked questions to cause the Pharisees and his enemies to question their beliefs – calling them out without being insulting or accusatory.
  3. When their response angered him, he channeled that anger into creative, restorative power that brought peace into the world and made it a better place.
  4. His anger wasn’t selfish. He didn’t lash out allow that righteous anger to control him.
  5. He continued to unapologetically live his life and walk in his calling, unafraid of the repercussions. He did not let the instance and the Pharisee’s continued response affect his ministry.

When you respond to your anger does it make the world better? Do you channel that anger, that sense of justice, that innate feeling in your spirit that tells you something is wrong, into restoration and peace like Jesus or do you take that and fuel feelings of rage and destruction like the Pharisees?

Published inTheological Musings

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