It’s so crazy how God can speak through my pen. I wrote notes about anger in my journal about a month ago, and reading back through them now it is so evident that God was in every detail of what I wrote. I wrote these notes when I was in the pit of struggling with anger. I was holding on to anger for people who had done me wrong. I was furious at people. And furious at myself. These words are my own interpretation of God’s message, but I’m blessed enough to be a vessel that God can speak through.
I want to look at Mark 3:1-5, the story of the man with the withered hand. Jesus enters the synagogue on the Sabbath and finds the man with the withered hand. Everyone watches him to see if he will heal this man on the Sabbath, because the Sabbath is meant to be holy and for rest. He asks the man to come forward and then pins the question on all of his watchers, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” And the room falls silent.
In verse 5 Mark writes, “He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart…”
Jesus feels anger here, but why? Because of the hardened hearts of the people who don’t want him to heal the man who is suffering. His “anger” comes from generous grief for how calloused and blind their hearts had become to their faith.
Jesus then goes to heal the man’s hand, which prompts the Pharisees to conspire against him.
Jesus’ anger is not rooted in himself or how he is being treated in these verses – which is a hard thing for us as humans to comprehend. Jesus is more focused on how other people are feeling. Forget that he’s being watched by a huge crowd. Forget that he just broke a “law” on the sabbath. Forget that his actions will prompt the pharisees to work harder to conspire against him. He is concerned and angered because the hearts of God’s children are hardened and not in line with God.
My worst anger comes out when I’m cutoff in traffic, when someone lies to me, when the heat goes out in my apartment and when I forget to pay my bills and I have late fees. Me. Me. Me. Everything that makes me angry is rooted in me and how something made me feel.
When was the last time you felt anger because you were concerned about someone else? What if we were able to take the emotion we call “anger” and turn its definition upside- down? What if anger were the emotion we felt when we were so concerned for other people that it made our blood boil inside?
The greek translation converts hardness into calloused, blind and dead. These are the things that made Jesus “angry” in the Synagogue that day. Is the anger I feel when I’m cutoff in traffic because something that is calloused? Something that is blind? Something that is dead?
Jesus’ actions make it clear that there needs to be a true shift in our priorities and what we perceive anger to be. Our anger needs to be for the homeless man that we see on the street corner every morning on our way to Starbucks, our anger needs to be for the person at work who never has a good day and our anger needs to be for the addict who control their life instead of letting God control it. The people who suffer need to make us angry.
And we need to take that form of anger and act on it. Heal them. In our own little ways. Be the vessel to soften their hearts. Save the life instead of kill it.
And living in this way, the old things that make me angry have been pushed aside. They are put in perspective. My perspective is more clear than it has ever been before.
To get caught up on this series, check out fear.