Much of what we call righteous anger isn’t really righteous. It’s about righteous things, maybe. But it’s not actually righteous. It’s often mere words and not acting upon behalf of another. What is my anger leading me to do? That’s how we can tell if it’s coming from Jesus or our own messed up hearts.
Do you do well to be angry? –Jonah 4:4
I’ve found that those who struggle with the sin of anger tend to almost always answer this question in the affirmative. They feel angry, they have been wronged, their sense of justice is awakened, and they conclude that they ought to be angry.
Jonah was an angry man. And he came to the conclusion that his anger was justified—in fact, he was justified in anger to the point of death.
I share this about Jonah because it’s important to acknowledge this as we enter into Mark 3:1-6. That passage is filled with anger. The Pharisees are angry and Jesus is angry. But they are angry about different things and as we will see their anger leads to different results.
If I’m like Jonah, I will enter into this story and assume that my anger is like that of Jesus—righteous. But in reality it’s more akin to that of the Pharisees. How can I tell which kind of anger I have?
The Anger of the Pharisees
Why are the Pharisees so angry? What do they have against Jesus? Shouldn’t they be rejoicing that a man was healed in one of their services?
They are angry because they believe that Jesus has run roughshod over the Law of God. Somewhere along the way they had come to the conclusion that healing is a “work”. And work shouldn’t be done on the Sabbath. You could heal something that was life threatening, but if it wasn’t life-threatening then your issue could wait until it wasn’t the Sabbath.
The Pharisees, like Jonah, believe that their anger is justified. In their mind they are the ones who are honoring God. He is dangerous.
This blaspheming Sabbath breaker is gaining popularity and if they are about protecting the people, protecting the nation, and protecting themselves, then they need to stop this guy.