Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Righteous indignation

So-called experts vary in their categorizations of anger types, their concepts and their number. Some forms of anger are normal and healthy. Even though unpleasant to deal with, it may lead to the quick resolution of a problem. Other forms of anger pose a serious problem. “Road rage” is a type of volatile explosive anger than can be intense and destructive. Chronic anger is habitual anger that people hold on to and nurture over a long period of time. This could be those who “seem like they are mad all the time.” Most people seem to have a general negative attitude toward the concept of anger -- probably because so much anger is selfish, uncontrolled and hurtful. But all anger is not bad or wrong. The Bible says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath (Ephesians 4:26).”

Jesus’s anger recorded in John 2:13-25 is instructive in the proper kind of and proper use of anger.

13 And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. 17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. 18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? 19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

Jesus’s anger was purposed (directed) and restrained (controlled). Many things about the way the Pharisees, Sadducees and others treated him personally could have caught his attention and engendered much anger. Rather, he directed his anger toward the abuse of the temple worship.

Jesus’s anger was premeditated (planned, planned beforehand) and judicious (displaying good judgment). Jesus took the time to make a scourge (a type of whip). The making of scourge -- both the intent, time and effort to do so -- displays not only purpose but also premeditation. He did not act rashly or explode in anger. He took his time. He made a specific tool and directed it to a specific purpose.

Jesus’s anger was righteous (without sin) and productive (got results beyond just the feeling). His action was directed against a known and overlooked moral wrong regarding the temple services.  It produced results beyond any supposed “feeling better” associated with an outburst of anger. The temple was cleansed of its abuse. Much anger has no designed purpose at all, has no moral foundation -- and after the fact the person who acted in anger does not even “feel better.”

Intriguingly, the Jews did not question the act of Jesus driving out the money-changers and overturning the tables. They only questioned whether Jesus had the authority to act (in other words, this is a question of the person of Christ). This indicates they knew the wrong and that someone had the authority to act in this manner.

Jesus was angry and did not sin. He directed his anger for a precise purpose, accomplished the purpose, explained his actions and went on with the things he came to do.

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