“And when He had looked around at them in anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts…”
– Mark 3:5
Jesus was angry and sorrowful towards the Pharisees because their man-made traditions and desires superseded God’s design of the law. It was their hypocrisy He was angry with. They thought it was wrong for the Lord to heal a human being on the Sabbath but not wrong to join with their enemies and make plans to kill Him on the very same day. This caused the Messiah’s heart, grief, and sadness. How amazing it is that Jesus’ anger is followed-up by tenderness.
There is righteous anger against sin, and the Apostle Paul tells us that anger towards it is a sincere response of the heart of a believer. The anger Jesus sensed has been defined as a swelling up “and thus implies that it is not a sudden outburst, but rather (referring to God’s) fixed, controlled, passionate feeling against sin . . . a settled indignation.” Along with confirmation that this kind of anger is valid, Paul also gave us a warning. Christians should take care that it does not become wrath, that is when it becomes sin in our own hearts.
More than righteous indignation against sin, forgiveness is demonstrated often in the scriptures. Even when being nailed to the cross, Jesus had mercy in His heart towards his executioners. Aristotle is quoted as saying, “Anybody can become angry, that is easy: but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not easy.” There is much truth in that statement. This is why the Bible instructs us to take care of anger immediately and never to let the sun go down before the matter is settled.
The secular definition of forgiveness has been written as, “the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, forswears recompense from or punishment of the offender, however legally or morally justified it might be, and with an increased ability to wish the offender well.” If any worldly wisdom can come close to the scriptures, it might be within this statement here. Vengeance is His because He is long-suffering, wanting everyone to be saved, but our revenge many times is without mercy. A manifestation that you are a Christ-follower is forgiveness. Jesus’ anger is followed up by tenderness. What is your anger followed up by?
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
– James 1:19-20