Jesus Shared His Father’s Wrath

Jesus_and_Children019Progressive Christians dismiss the part of the Old Testament that reveals God’s wrath. For instance one writer at Pathoes, in explaining the views of Progressives says they do not believe God wrote the Bible and therefore do not see it as infallible or inerrant, which leads to this:

While we’re aware of the many inconsistencies and contradictions in the Bible; and while we’re abhorred by, and reject, the various instances of horrible theology that appear here and there within the texts (e.g., passages that posit God as wrathful, vindictive, and condoning of slavery, and even “ordering” rape and genocide, etc.), they don’t cause us to reject the Bible, rather, they endear us to the Bible.

There’s so much error in that statement, but setting all else aside, I wonder in light of their rejection of God’s wrath what they do with Jesus Christ’s anger?

Sunday my pastor Mike Erre preached about Jesus’s anger. He started with the account of Jesus healing a man’s withered hand recorded in Luke 6, but he expanded to include Mark’s account which adds a key detail:

He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. (Mark 3:1-5, emphasis added)

According to Pastor Mike, there are two words in the Greek that mean anger. The one used here is not the one that would equate with a sudden flare of emotion. Rather, according to Strong’s Concordance, this word, orgē, means

I. anger, the natural disposition, temper, character

II. movement or agitation of the soul, impulse, desire, any violent emotion, but esp. anger

III. anger, wrath, indignation

IV. anger exhibited in punishment, hence used for punishment itself

A. of punishments inflicted by magistrates

The King James Version translates the word wrath 31 of the 36 times it appears.

I admit, I’ve overlooked this instance of Jesus being angry. Yes, I knew He was pretty ticked off at the money changers and the people buying and selling in the temple those times He turned over tables and chased out those who didn’t belong, but I thought that was pretty much it in the anger department.

How silly.

Here Jesus became angry at the Pharisees because they would rather have seen Jesus honor their definition of work, which they’d made up, than heal the man who had a useless arm. They loved their religious pretense more than they loved the needy.

And this incident was not the only one of its kind.

Pastor Mike pointed out Christ’s “indignation” at His disciples for turning away the children instead of letting them come to Him (Mark 10:14).

And then there was His . . . scolding, I guess would be the best term, of the Pharisees. Some might call it an extended warning, and that seems right, but in the process, Jesus was calling them names: blind guides, sons of hell, hypocrites, whitewashed tombs, foolish ones. And He was accusing them of things they understood to be horrible: complicit in the death of the prophets, worse than those destroyed in Sodom and Gomorrah, full of robbery and wickedness and lawlessness.

Yes, I think this passage qualifies as an instance when Jesus was angry. And what prompted His reaction? A Pharisee had invited Him to eat at his house, but when Jesus sat down without going through the ceremonial cleansing the Pharisees had added onto the Law, His host was surprised. The rebuke was Jesus’s response.

In some ways it seems disproportionate to the offense, but not when we take into account the fact that Jesus was reflecting God’s heart. We see God’s attitude toward religious activity that is void of a heart of compassion in Isaiah 58. God tells the prophet to declare to the people their sins. They were fasting, He said, and crying to God, asking Him why He wasn’t paying attention to their spirituality. God says through Isaiah that they missed what He wanted:

“Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?
Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (vv 6-7)

Isaiah 1 gives another instance of God telling His people He doesn’t want their religious activity when they aren’t doing what He’s told them He wants:

What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?”
Says the LORD.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle;
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.
“When you come to appear before Me,
Who requires of you this trampling of My courts?
“Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me.
New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
“I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing them.
“So when you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Yes, even though you multiply prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow. (vv 13-17)

Pastor Mike wrapped up the sermon in a powerful way. He pointed out two key things. God’s wrath is actually a positive. It is His declaration that there will come a time when He says enough to all that should not be: murder, envy, greed, abuse, illness, betrayal, fear, rape, self-righteousness, slander—all of it.

What’s more, God’s immense love which caused Him to send His Son into the world, collides at the cross with His wrath. Wrath meted out to stop sin, to say, the evil in this world isn’t going to win. Love given to satisfy His wrath.

Praise God for His love and for His wrath. Not, either-or, but both-and.

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Published in: on June 30, 2014 at 6:54 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 Comments

  1. And one shouldn’t overlook Jeremiah. I’m personally astonished by the anger of God detailed there. The quote that you use, not attributed to any particular individual, is irrational to me. How can one be abhorred and endeared at the same time, over the same issues? Perhaps I’m missing what the true meaning is supposed to be, but it reads as an irrational idea.

    Am I reading it wrong, Rebecca?

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  2. Another homer here Rebecca. The God of Jeremiah 19 who is promising to cause the Jews to eat their own children in judgement for their whoring after other gods, IS the same God who opened not His mouth as Jesus Christ while being led to His own slaughter. That’s the passage from Isaiah that the Ethiopian eunuch was reading when Phillip showed up in acts 8. The new testament writers like Luke, do take the old testament very seriously as the word of the LORD.

    Russ I sincerely mean no offense, but clearly you have not spent time with emergent liberals. Consistent, logical, systematic thinking is to them practically blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. An eye rolling holdover from “fundamentalism” that cannot die soon enough.

    Uncertainty, doubt and the endlessly “nuanced” grooviness of their Woodstock Jesus, wherein pretty much ANY manifestation of universally binding truth is viewed as literally evil, is applauded by them as “maturity”.

    I kid you not. Uncertainty and doubt are practically fruits of the Spirit to them. So if you point out some glaring flagrant contradiction in what the say, you’ll get a kindly condescending, pitying smile as they tell you that “that’s’ just not how second temple Jews thought”.

    Debating one of them is like chasing a greased pig.(not that I’m calling them pigs) You get em pinned for a second and they just slip out and squeal away. They have no common anchor anywhere so you can stand on the same deck with them and have a substantive conversation.

    I said all that to say that irrationality is to them a good thing, so yes. It is irrational and no, that is no problem for them.

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  3. I keep coming across people who use isolated incidences of Jesus’ wrath to justify themselves. I don’t think that’s what you’re doing here, by the way. But these dear people say, “See, Jesus got angry. Therefore, I can be mad, too.” And they hold on to anger as an important part of their identity, saying, “Oh, I’m just an angry person. God made me this way.” It’s an excuse to keep a sin they want to feel righteous about, as I see it.

    I’m challenged all the time by how the Bible instructs us to not sin in our anger. We’re not told to NEVER be angry, but to keep from sin. How do we do that? How did Jesus do that? He wove that whip He used in the Temple. He did use strong language when His temper was provoked. How did Jesus stay sinless?

    Love isn’t just about being gentle, kind, or harmless. Love is about doing good and abhorring evil. But how do we get to a place where love keeps us on a righteous path, does good for all, and enacts justice on convicted sins? I’m so grateful to serve a God who handles that where I cannot, and cautiously optimistic that I won’t have to get to that point this side of heaven. I don’t think I’m ready for that.

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    • My apology, Rebecca, you did provide an attribution, just withholding the name. I usually read your essays during the evenings when I’m tired from the events of any particular day, and easily miss things I generally wouldn’t.

      Good insight, Tiribulus. I actually am aware of liberals such as Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and lots of others. The word/faith pastors also haven’t escaped my notice, not to mention a few other categories. As far as name calling is concerned the apostles didn’t mince words. A pig is a pig is a pig and Peter knew one when he saw one. Smile.

      The part of the OT that reveals God’s wrath is more than substantial. As well, it’s impossible to miss the righteous anger of Jesus in the NT. I suppose, in the end, there is a time for righteous anger. In fact, I’d say the such a statement shows that I have a great flair for the obvious.

      And on that note, I’m always baffled when the secular world, or those who otherwise might call themselves believers in some elusive and obscure God, pronounce only HIs love, believing they’ll make it to heaven because they are “good” people, completely missing his justice. As Jesus said, “The blind leading the blind.” These folks are to be most pitied.

      And just another brief comment: I have personally felt the sting of God’s discipline (anger). It was just awful and I got pounded. The years have softened my thoughts of it, but I deserved it. I can honestly say that it was a good thing (I don’t want to do it again) because, in my opinion, it proved my membership in the family. So, yep, their is a time and place for God’s anger.

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