What Manner of Man
(A weekly program for knowing and following Jesus Christ)
By Richard M. Eyre
WEEK 12: RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION
Was the Savior ever angry? Yes and no. No, he did not lose control, did not let passion or emotion rule, did not retaliate against those who abused him. But yes, he got angry in the sense of righteous indignation, the kind of controlled but powerful anger and action that repulsed temptations (Matthew 4:8-11); that rebuked any lack of compassion (Luke 16:19-23); that rebuffed those who took from the poor and loved their own honor (Luke 20:45-47); and that reprimanded strongly the double standards (John 8:3-11), the hypocrisy (Matthew 23:23-28), and letter-of-the-law-above-compassion attitudes (Mark 3:1-5)
Perhaps the most remembered illustration of his indignation is the time when the Master drove the merchants from his Father’s house (John 2:13-17). Yet here, as always, there is no hint of loss of control.
Christ’s anger undoubtedly was awesome, powerful, but with a great and much-needed purpose. There is much evidence that his indignation was frequently followed by an overflow of love that separated the Lord’s hate of the deed from his love of the person. Matthew 23 shows Christ giving some harsh denunciations, yet it ends with a beautiful statement of his love.
Destructive anger is anger that is connected to hate. Christ’s anger was inseparably connected to perfect love. He simply loved people too much not to feel indignation toward the things that would destroy them. Indeed, the Lord, being perfect, could not have avoided this sort of anger, for it is wrong to be complacent in the presence of wrong, and he was bound sometimes to express himself forcefully.
The Master turned his other cheek to those who persecuted and reviled him, but he turned the full force of his indignation upon the evils that could hurt and destroy those he came to save.
In the dawn of time, our Lord and his Father (our Father) exercised righteous indignation by casting out the one-third who fought against your free will and mine, against our ultimate progress and joy. The Lord’s indignation on this earth was a continuation of that same pure love for us and that same pure rejection of all that could lead us astray.