Anger. We’ve all been there … tense, hot-cheeked, blood-boiling. If we’re lucky, sometimes it passes all on its own. But other times —most times— we have to do something about it, and our options are limited. We can wait it out, but that can sometimes turn it into a long-lasting simmer that’s even harder to shake. We can let it out, but that can sometimes —most times— make a bad situation worse. Or, we can let it go, though we all know that’s easier said than done. Anger is a tricky emotion.
And believe it or not, Jesus had to navigate it, too … which can be hard to imagine given the picture that many people have of him. But the truth is this: Jesus was a man who lived in a chaotic, complex world like our own. He wasn’t immune to strife. When we made the “Outrage” video, we wanted to explore the realities of this.
During his life, Jesus’s emotions were well recorded in the Bible. He was said to have cried, loved, rejoiced. And yes, he felt anger — on more than one occasion. He was angered by those who wouldn’t stop mistreating others after being called out. He grew angry when people lacked compassion while witnessing suffering. He didn’t like seeing the rich take advantage of the poor or the power-hungry feed on the weak. And hypocritical leaders who did all those things and more? Now that really got under his skin.
But in all these instances, it’s worth reading about how Jesus chose to respond to his anger. He had a measured patience about him. He took his time before taking action, and once he finally did, his approach had a shocking lack of malice. His words had no cruelty in them. His actions appeared free of bias. Even at his hottest (when yes, he upturned a thieving trader’s table in a place of worship), witnesses described his behavior with the Greek word “zelos,” which translates to “zeal.” They understood he wasn’t motivated by rage. He had the energy and enthusiasm to right the wrongs he was seeing.
And there were lots of wrongs to be seen. That’s why so many people came to him downcast and broken-hearted, ready for a change. No matter what condition they arrived in, Jesus welcomed them anger-free. Despite their pasts. Despite their weaknesses. With him, they found a place of love, forgiveness, and hope. And because Jesus never grew angry on his own behalf — despite being mocked, defamed, and wrongly sentenced to death — he taught them there was a better way to do anger.
He taught them to let it go.
These days, that may sound like a tall order. We live in a world where we have become masters at justifying our own rage about one thing or another. But Jesus gave us a great example to follow when wading through the anger maze. If we were to take the time to drop our personal malice and bias … if we were to shed our egos and self-serving agendas … how much justifiable anger are we really left with? And how can we move forward with it from a place of love and forgiveness instead of hate and rage to make our lives and others better?
All worthy questions, and ones we hope the video “Outrage” will leave you asking.
Scripture References: Mark 11:15-18, Mark 3:1-6, Matthew 5:38-40