This post originally appeared at Gospel-Centered Discipleship. You can access the full article here.
A frenzied young rabbi runs helter-skelter through holiday crowds. He upends tables, scatters gold and silver, and sends animals and humans fleeing in every direction.
Those with sense run for the exits, not eager to find themselves on the business end of this mad Galilean’s handmade whip (see John 2:15). Others, with more greed than sense, dive after loose coins and lost profits.
This episode must have made an impression on Jesus’ disciples, as it’s one of the few stories that made its way into all four Gospels. It is hands down, the wildest depiction of Jesus we have. Rather than “gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” we’re presented with “angry Jesus, zealous and wild.” Here is a shockingly aggressive, courageous, passionate, intense Messiah. Paint his face blue and give him a Scottish accent, and any one of us might be inspired to follow him into battle.
This is angry Jesus.
And if Jesus can get angry, can I?
If we’re honest, this whip-brandishing Jesus is the same Jesus we too easily invoke to justify our own anger. If there is such a thing as righteous indignation, most of our anger probably is justified, right? And if the Bible tells us to “be angry and do not sin” (Eph. 4:26, emphasis added) then maybe we’ve got a green light for our rage.
But the Scriptures don’t give us leeway for such faulty logic. Consider, for example, the words of James: “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (Jas. 1:19-20).
James is speaking not of righteous anger, but the more common “anger of man,” which is directed by human passions and desires (see Jas. 4:1-3).
Most of the anger we justify as “righteous”—the flare-ups and frustrations caused by petty annoyances or personal affronts—isn’t righteous at all. Here are ten reasons why…
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