There is an indignation which is justifiable


Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. —Mark 3:1-5

Mark 3:1-19 is the passage we read today. Here is some help from J.C.Ryle:

This expression is very remarkable, and demands special attention. It is meant to remind us that our Lord Jesus Christ was a man like ourselves in all things, sin only excepted. Whatever sinless feelings belong to the constitution of man, our Lord partook of, and knew by experience. We read that He “marveled,” that He “rejoiced,” that He “wept,” that He “loved,” and here we read that He felt “anger.”

It is plain from these words that there is an “anger” which is lawful, right, and not sinful. There is an indignation which is justifiable, and on some occasions may be properly manifested. The words of Solomon and Paul both seem to teach the same lesson. “The north wind drives away rain, so does an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.” “Be angry and sin not.” (Prov. 25:23. Ephes. 4:26.)

Yet it must be confessed that the subject is full of difficulty. Of all the feelings that man’s heart experiences, there is none perhaps which so soon runs into sin as the feeling of anger. There is none which once excited seems less under control. There is none which leads on to so much evil. The length to which ill-temper, irritability, and passion, will carry even godly men, all must know. The history of “the contention” of Paul and Barnabas at Antioch, and the story of Moses being provoked until he “spoke unadvisedly with his lips,” are familiar to every Bible reader. The dreadful fact that passionate words are a breach of the sixth commandment, is plainly taught in the Sermon on the Mount. And yet here we see that there is anger which is lawful.

Let us leave this subject with an earnest prayer, that we may all be enabled to take heed to our spirit in the matter of anger. We may rest assured that there is no human feeling which needs so much cautious guarding as this. A sinless wrath is a very rare thing. The wrath of man is seldom for the glory of God. In every case a righteous indignation should be mingled with grief and sorrow for those who cause it, even as it was in the case of our Lord. And this, at all events, we may be sure of–it is better never to be angry, than to be angry and sin.

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