I recently started doing a bible study with a friend of mine. We were talking about how interesting it is how infrequently references are made to the gospels of Mark and Luke, but how interesting and readable their accounts are. It could be because, mostly, these two accounts aren’t first hand, but I still think they do a good job recounting some awesome stories about an awesome dude.
In true nerd fashion, we decided to do some comparative analysis of the two books, story for story.
Today we were talking about the reading we had done (and hadn’t done) this past week. As a true procrastinator, I was reading as we discussed and I ran into something that made me stop multitasking.
I read Luke 6:10 “He looked at them all and then said to the man ‘stretch out your hand.’ He did so and his hand was completely restored.
And then I flipped to the parallel account in Mark, 3:5. “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.”
Same story, almost exactly the same account, except one small difference.
Mark’s account said that Jesus was angry.
Is Jesus allowed to be angry?
Intentional or unintentional, it seems like we are always shown by the Christian community a patient, unemotional Jesus for the purpose of illustrating his perfection. Even Luke subtracts emotion from this story, almost as if he doesn’t want to share the entirety so he can protect the image of a perfect Jesus. He doesn’t want to reveal that Jesus displayed human emotion.
Jesus was sometimes angry and frustrated. He was sometimes tired. He could be tricky, snarky, and reclusive. And he did it all with absolute love.
My friend and I have talked a lot about how it’s ok to be angry, especially with God. It’s healthy and honest and real and necessary, and even, as this one verse from Mark shows me, Christ-like. I always thought that anger towards anyone was wrong. If you can’t be angry with your neighbor then you certainly can’t be angry with God.
But Jesus, the son of God, our perfect example of how to live with love and kindness, looked on the Pharisees with anger when they couldn’t understand his healing a man in need on the sabbath.
I think Jesus’ anger only makes him more perfect. He saw these people, so blinded by rules and traditions, that they wouldn’t attend to a hurting man because it was Sunday. He didn’t understand these people, who to him were saying:
“Ohhhh sorry homie, if you had come yesterday we might have helped you out, but it’s Sunday soooo we’re gonna just need you to go suffer somewhere else until tomorrow.”
I am so thankful that Mark tells what is, to my eyes, a more full account of the situation, without feeling the need to protect the image of Jesus. He says, “hey, this is what happened. I think Jesus is perfect, so him feeling anger is also perfect, it’s not a big deal, so move on.”
Jesus is so sad for these people who keep ignoring the messages of God, that he is distressed. He is trying everything and doesn’t know what to do to help them understand. He feels this anger and distress, and heals the man despite their continued ignorance that he is the son of God. He is frustrated that they are missing out on the fullness of life, wishing that they could live into his perfect love, while in the same second they are plotting to kill him.
He is emotional that he can’t understand; that he is failing to convince them, wishing they could be better, and they want to watch him die.
Is there a more dramatic example of selfless love? I know you’re going to murder me in a bit, but I love you anyway.
To love is to feel distress and anger. You aren’t broken because of it. Be honest and let yourself be angry if that’s what you feel. With your closest friends, your family, your neighbors, and especially with God. When something happens that you can’t understand, wrestle with it. Pray for patience and stamina and honesty and understanding; and for any guilt you may feel, you’ve already been forgiven.