Compassionate Anger

Mark 3:1-6
He looked around at them angrily and was
deeply saddened by their hard hearts (v.5).

Some things make me angry. Newspaper columnists
who belittle life-long marriage; radio hosts who
rile against refugees; the big glossy advertisements
for brothels in my local newspaper; climate-change
proponents who label their critics ”deniers” to silence them;
climate-change critics who label their opponents “alarmists”
for the same reason. Yes, some things make me angry.

Jesus became angry (John 2:13-17;11:33). One
Sabbath He was preaching in a synagogue when a
number of His critics were present. In a provocative
move, Jesus called to a man with a crippled hand and
had him stand in front of the group. “Does the law
permit good deeds on the Sabbath,” Jesus asked, eyeing
His critics, “or is it a day for doing evil?” (Mark 3:4).
Silence. “Is this a day” (we can imagine Him speaking
louder now), “to save life or to destroy it?” Still silence.

God made the Sabbath as a time for rest and renewal
(Exodus 20:8), but by Jesus’ day the religious leaders had
made its strict observance a sign of one’s righteousness.
No work was to be done on the Sabbath, including, in the
Pharisees’ eyes, the healing of crippled men. And Jesus
was angry about that—angry at the Pharisees’ hard hearts.
But, astonishingly, we find Jesus being “deeply
saddened” by them too (Mark 3:5). His anger at evil
wasn’t accompanied by hatred for its perpetrators, but by
sadness, grief, compassion.

I ask myself, to what degree do I feel compassion for that columnist, radio
host, or brothel owner? Do I feel sad about that angry driver or climate-change
critic? I’m not sure how much of my anger is the least bit righteous, let alone
combined with compassion.

To feel anger is human. To feel compassionate anger is divine. I want to be
more like Jesus. —Sheridan Voysey


• Proverbs 14:29
• Ephesians 4:26,31
• James 1:19-20

Think of someone who made you angry
recently. How can you show compassion to that
person? If Jesus is the embodiment of God,
how might Mark 3:1-6 help us understand God’s