The Anger of Jesus

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54 Responses

  1. Paige says:

    Yes, those questions need to be asked. Frankly, I don’t think they will ever be fully answered in this life. The Truth of Jesus and the Will of God are way too huge to grasp.
    Great post.
    Thank you.
    Love you.

  2. Michael says:

    Love you too, my friend!

  3. Steve Wright says:

    And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him
    Good observations, Michael. Here’s another – they were watching Him, the idea of the imperfect I think is to show the continuous action, and it is a strong idea here – not just casual observation.

    Then we see the purpose (the hina clause), that they might accuse him. They WANTED to find fault so they would have their excuse to rip into Him.

    It truly is am amazing event.

  4. Michael says:


    Thank you…that’s yet another light into this loaded passage.
    I’ve been pondering it for a week…and it really has me thinking.

  5. Josh Hamrick says:

    I’m not understanding where Jesus bent the rules. Who’s rules?

    One other thing:
    “The Sabbath was a symbol to the Jews of all their hopes and aspirations.

    It was the flag they wrapped around themselves that spoke of what they believed, Who they believed in, and what they believed He would one day do on their behalf.

    It represented their national and spiritual identity and to break Sabbath laws was to call into question every one of those things.”
    Do you have any kind of reference for that? Seems like an interesting thought.

    Good article!

  6. Steve Wright says:

    The Greek professor at my seminary would pick a different NT book each year as the focus of the class for 2nd and 3rd year students. Mark was his choice for my 3rd year and though we could not get through the whole book, we did the early chapters and I remember there were some interesting nuggets.

    (Philippians was the choice for 2nd year – and we got through that whole book)

  7. Michael says:


    Giving medical attention was considered a work unless it was a matter of life and death.
    Virtually all the commentaries I referenced made note of what the Sabbath meant to the Jews…N.T. Wright is probably the most accessible.

  8. Michael says:

    These thoughts and puzzles may crowd into our minds when we read about Jesus healing on the sabbath; but if we’re going to see what it meant at the time we have to go back, not just to the ‘sabbath’ observance of our (or at least my) childhood, but to the world of first-century Palestine. For a Jew in Jesus’ world, the sabbath had all that mixture of social pressure and legal sanction, but it meant much more as well. It was a badge of Jewishness for people who’d been persecuted and killed simply for being Jewish. It was a national flag that spoke of freedom to come, of hope for the great Day of Rest when God would finally liberate Israel from pagan oppression. It looked back to the creation of the world, and to the Exodus from Egypt, and it marked out those who kept it as God’s special people, God’s faithful people, God’s hoping people. It was, after all, a commandment deeply embedded in the Jewish scriptures.
    So why does Jesus appear to drive a coach and horses through it? Because it had become a weapon. It had become a sign of his fellow Jews’ commitment to a fierce and exclusive nationalism. Along with other badges and flags, it spoke now not of Israel as the light of the world but of Israel as the children of light and the rest of the world as remaining in darkness. And this attitude, as so easily happens when religion and nationalism are wedded tightly together, spilled over into popular attitudes even towards fellow-Jews. For many groups, it wasn’t enough to be a loyal Jew; one had to be a better loyal Jew than the other lot. And in this no-win situation the whole point of the commandment—celebrating God’s creation and redemption, past, present and future—had been lost sight of. The rule mattered more than the reality.

    Wright, T. (2004). Mark for Everyone (pp. 29–30). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge

  9. Josh Hamrick says:


    Giving medical attention was considered a work unless it was a matter of life and death.”

    But this is all midrash, right? The actual Sabbath law, Jesus kept perfectly. It was only the fake stuff that people piled on top of God’s law that JEsus “bent”, right?

    “NT Wright” – Oh, I don’t read liberals. 🙂
    That’s a joke. I don’t think of Wright as a Liberal, and I do read Liberals.

  10. covered says:

    I find this incredibly interesting that there was never a question of “IF” Jesus could heal but rather will He do it on the Sabbath. Even the demons believe…

  11. covered says:

    I based my last comment on the idea that those who once claim that Jesus was their Savior were perhaps just buying fire insurance. It wasn’t until He became my Lord as well as my Savior that I realized how powerful He truly is.

  12. covered,
    Is it possible for Jesus to be your savior and not your lord? Can you break that down a little – it sounds strange to me.

  13. Michael says:


    Possibly…but at the risk of opening up a huge can of worms, what they held to was their interpretation of the text.
    In a way, the Pharisees get a bad rap.
    They were the keepers of the flame, the protectors of the text, the conservatives of the day.
    In their correctness, they lost sight of the spirit of the law.
    Where have we done the same?
    Have we?

  14. Michael says:


    I’ll say the amen… 🙂

  15. covered says:

    MLD, if Jesus is my Lord, then He also becomes my Master. If He is my Master, then I want to live a life that is pleasing to Him. If He is my Savior only and not my Master, then He’s basically more like insurance in case the Bible means what it says. For me the best example we have is with the church in Corinth. While they were believer’s, they were carnal believer’s. There was very little evidence in their lives that Jesus was their Master.

  16. Steve Wright says:

    I was doing radio edits yesterday for our program which presently is in Exodus and the giving of the Law so in relistening to those messages I was reminded that the motivation for stuff like breaking down what defines “work” was at first very good. In other words, from a desire to please the Lord and keep His command, and wanting to know what that meant.

    I think the key is to place aside this discussion the words of Jesus to the Pharisees when He said that though they tithe from the spice gardens they have left out the weightier matters like love, mercy and justice.

    The spirit of the Michael mention in #13 above.

  17. covered says:

    MLD, just another thought. If salvation is defined as “the act of saving someone from sin or evil; the state of being saved” then in my opinion that means that heaven is more like the reward or the result of salvation. I know many people who only focus on the result of salvation and not the benefit of knowing a loving Father and making Him our Master. It’s the love of Christ that compels us. Being faithful to my wife is easy because I love her. Wanting to be a better dad is easy because I love my kids. I want to be a better son to My Lord because I love Him and I can’t believe how much He loves me. This is not about works, it’s about love.

  18. Owen Wells says:

    This is a very good and very interesting article……
    To take it in a slightly different direction – the difference between the letter and the spirit of the law is something I’ve had to remember when dealing with my children. I’ve been known to get a little too legalistic about a household rule being broken, instead of trying to see whether or not my child was actually still aware of the intentions behind that rule. Some rules actually need to be broken (or maybe altered?) when the higher purpose of love is involved.

    @covered – love that observation! Never noticed that one before…..and that’s another reason they wanted to be rid of Him, He made them tremble….

  19. Michael says:

    “Some rules actually need to be broken (or maybe altered?) when the higher purpose of love is involved.”

    Indeed, but it takes so much wisdom to know when to make those choices…

  20. dewd4jesus says:

    They had turned a day of worshipping God for all He had done, His continued provision and coming promises, meant to be a day of rest and restoration, and turned it into oppressive slavery and bondage. Much like what they’ve done with the Constitution and Bill of Rights today.

  21. covered,
    I guess this is the part I do not understand – do we make Jesus our lord or is he our lord… whether we know, or accept it or not? In other words, are we in charge of his lordship or is he in charge of his lordship?

    I think the way we answer that is a watershed difference in theology… and perhaps off target of the article.

  22. Josh Hamrick says:

    I don’t want to parse the particulars too much, because I agree with the overriding points in this article.

    I do want to ask if anyone else s familiar with this view of the Sabbath? I assumed it was NT Wright when I asked, because he always takes things just a little further than seems necessary.

    I read lots of commentaries, but haven’t heard that particular breakdown.

  23. covered says:

    I am on my way out for an appt so forgive me for a short answer. Yes He is Lord whether anyone likes it or believes it (every knee will bow). Making Him your Lord and Master in other words making a conscious decision to try to live a life that is more pleasing to Him (Rom 12 etc), is a choice. I want to do better, be better because I choose to serve Him and love Him. Sorry for the crude answer but I have to go now.

  24. Steve Wright says:

    Josh, I can say definitively that this view of the Sabbath is proper when it comes to the time from the diaspora in 70 AD to the present time (or at least until 1948). The Sabbath is what has kept the Jew’s national identity, even when they had no nation. And I always find it fascinating that in the giving of the commandments, it is the Sabbath that God says is between Him and Israel for perpetual generations to come.

    I don’t want to derail this article to get into issues of Israel – but to answer your question. I can’t say that I have heard what N.T. Wright is saying as to the Sabbath in Jesus’ day, nor do I see it expressed that way in the Scripture. I think their national identity was in the temple, clearly, and not the Sabbath – and switched to the Sabbath at the destruction of that temple and the diaspora. So I would (and do) keep the focus on all the traditions and interpretations that arose around the Sabbath at the time of Jesus, and His breaking of their traditions while never of course breaking the command of God, and would not take it to the level that Wright does…

  25. Owen Wells says:

    Agreed, Michael – and so many times I feel unqualified to make that choice.

  26. filbertz says:

    while Jesus certainly had one eye on the accusers, his focus was on the man with the withered hand. His redemptive purpose & compassion for one outweighed the anger and frustration with the many. Knowing the hearts of those who would plot to kill him didn’t stop him from healing the man.

  27. Interesting thing… most liberals would hate the idea of an angry Jesus

  28. Josh Hamrick says:

    This was a good post Michael. Kept me thinking all day. Had to come home and do some reading. I appreciate it!

    Steve, thanks for the answer. Kinda what I was thinking, but you added even more levels to the thought.

    The question Jesus asked is what is sticking with me right now. “to do good or to do harm”…Jesus had the cure for the man’s infirmity, so to withhold that would be harmful.

    Still thinking.

  29. This was an interesting post.

  30. Michael says:

    I’m glad I was able to provide some food for thought…it’s been on my mind since I started studying the passage.

  31. I love chewing on a passage of scripture with other men around a retreat camp fire at night out in the desert places. It is amazing what we derive as a group from the differing angle points of perspective in a passage.

    Far away from our other responsibilities and honey~do list and phones our minds are more focused and the Holy Spirit seems to get through to our thoughts.

    It is very rewarding to dig into a passage and look at the structure and the depths to be found. All without the intent of writing a book or doing a radio program or teaching. Just enjoying what we come up with and discussing it as we watch the sparks fly up and listen to the crackle of the fire and the shadows cast by the light.

    This thread reminded me of those incredible times.

    Thanks Michael! Hope to see more of these vignettes.

    “Bringing the world into focus
    through the lens of Scripture”
    Chuck Missler

  32. Steve Wright says:

    Josh, I too was thinking some more, especially about my answer. Obviously I do not know the sources used by Wright to support what he was saying about the nationalism of the Sabbath. My desire is not to argue against a book I have not read.

    a) We know the Jew wanted to rebuild the temple (and did) even before the Jerusalem walls, after the Babylonian captivity. That speaks a lot to how they saw their nationality

    b) We know the history behind the desecration and rededication of the temple during the Maccabee years, and the significance that held then and in the years to come. How Antiochus’ actions sparked a revolution etc.

    c) We know that even though ruled by Rome, a certain level of autonomy was insisted upon and received by the Jews when it came to issues of the temple, with the High Priest being the most important Jew in the country (and an appointed position by Rome at the time of Jesus)

    d) But the kicker to me is that Matthew and Mark both mention the specific accusation against Jesus of His threat to destroy the temple. No accusations in any of the four gospels during the trial(s) reference His actions or teachings about the Sabbath. Though obviously we know that this was one of the many areas where He did anger them greatly during His ministry. However, in addition to the Son of God claim, the threat to destroy the temple is the only other direct accusation recorded during the trials (and of course they interpreted that all wrong when Jesus said it)

    I just have a hard time seeing the Sabbath as the focus of national identity while the temple was standing. Once the temple was destroyed, there is zero doubt (to me) that the Sabbath has been the one unifying presence for the Jew, no matter where he lived around the world.

  33. The vast majority of Jews worldwide do not observe sabbath, and could not even tell you what was to be done to observe sabbath.What binds Jews together is people hood … but not much different than the Sioux today.

    Even in Israel today, most sabbath observance is coercive.

  34. Steve Wright says:

    I have a ton of research that would say otherwise, MLD.

  35. Steve Wright says:

    I should clarify – MLD, if your comment was about Jews TODAY..then fine. I have no beef with that statement.

    However, I was speaking of Jews from 70 AD through almost two millennia of history, especially before 1948. (Everyone remembers the beginning to Schindler’s List I assume). Peoplehood is meaningless without certain traditions and customs, even among the Sioux, and the chief of those was without question the Sabbath.

    One quick support pulled from the web:

    After the destruction of the Second Temple, the synagogue and the Jewish home became the focal point of every Jewish community, especially on the Sabbath. Prayers and symbolic acts replaced the Temple services which could no longer be performed. The Sabbath liturgy grew and expanded, the Torah instructions became formalized and defined, and the essential structure of the Sabbath prayers was developed. Eventually an entire tractate of the Talmud evolved that was devoted to the laws and spirit of the Sabbath.

    (taken from here: )

  36. London says:

    That would depend on what he was angry about.

  37. Andrew says:

    “And I always find it fascinating that in the giving of the commandments, it is the Sabbath that God says is between Him and Israel for perpetual generations to come.”

    Steve, this is one Bible verse about the Sabbath. Most of the other stuff you mentioned was mere tradition. Since obeying the Sabbath is mixed in with the other 10 commandments I’m not so sure its explicitly referring to Israel unless the 10 commands were specifically for Israel. It may be fascinating but not recognizing Jesus as the fulfillment of the Sabbath means they are not Christians and not saved.
    “I just have a hard time seeing the Sabbath as the focus of national identity while the temple was standing. Once the temple was destroyed, there is zero doubt (to me) that the Sabbath has been the one unifying presence for the Jew, no matter where he lived around the world.”

    Steve, again, you may be right with this, but it actually is an argument that these Jews are not saved. Jesus is the ultimate Sabbath. Rejecting Jesus (the true Sabbath) is an indicator these people are not God’s people. Also the temple (Christ’s body) was raised. Rejecting this temple is also an indicator that these people are not God’s people. I’m not sure how you can see it otherwise. You can call it fascinating, but I have a real hard time just seeing how this has any biblical significance at all.

  38. Focusing on the sabbath is missing the entire point of why Jesus was angry and their real motivation for accusing him.
    They wanted to find a reason and even when Jesus gave them an answer, they had already decided in their hearts.
    Hardness of heart is the whole thing here.

  39. Andrew says:


    I can agree with that. Jesus even said:

    “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life”

    Sure sounds like hardness of heart of me. The Sabbath is just one piece of the unbelief.

  40. OK just for fun… Here is a post I made elsewhere. I am hearing lots of talk about the OT God not being coherent by seeing Jesus and how we ought to clean up the image of the OT God with reading the OT through the NT. Sort of like that RED LETTER THING. Then this in my actual experience from Sunday…..

    So let me tell you how the truth of God was revealed in Jesus in my youth Bible class this weekend. We were having the kids just LISTEN to the Bible. One of the girls came out of the class scandalized by the whole thing. “How can I worship a racist?” she cried. “Did you hear it? Jesus called that woman a dog.” Admittedly I laughed and asked her how the whole thing turned out. “Jesus gave in and gave her what she wanted because no matter what he called her she wouldn’t give up.”

    Sounded like some of the nonsense I hear from people imposing our enlightened views on Old Testament scripture. Didn’t Marcion go a little nuts over his angst on this whole way of seeing scripture.

    The girl, was unimpressed that Jesus gave the woman a supernatural gift because he diminished her as a person in the process.

  41. Andrew says:

    The only one advocating Marcion teaching on here has been RB that I am aware of. Marcion teaching seems very much like Gnosticism to me.

  42. Tim says:

    We’re going through Mark on Sunday mornings right now, and your article prompted me to go back and look up my notes from chapter 3. The man with the withered hand actually gets left out in discussions sometimes (for obvious reasons, as the conflict was between Jesus and the Pharisees), but there is a great example of faith and the enabling power of God in how Jesus heals him..

    Here’s an excerpt, if you’re interested:

    “The man actually has a minor role in all of this. His disability is just the setting for the trap of the Pharisees. But we have to love how Jesus goes about healing this man! Look at His command to the man: “Stretch out your hand.” The man’s hand was withered; this was an impossible command. If the man could stretch out his hand, there wouldn’t have been an issue in the first place. If Jesus didn’t have the authority and power of God, this would have seemed to have been a cruel joke. Yet that is exactly what Jesus told the man to do…and he did it! We’re not told anything about the disability, whether this was something that had happened in old age, something that had happened as the result of an accident, etc. But stretching out his hand was something that was impossible for the man to do. Unless the man believed Jesus and actually had faith that what Jesus told him to do was possible, the man would never have done it, and he never would have experienced the grace of God in the process.”

  43. Steve Wright says:

    Andrew – I am confused as to your reply. Where have you ever heard me say Jews are saved apart from Jesus. And why would you feel that was the response to the two quotes I pasted?

    Now, my fascination was the fact that the Jews have kept an identity for 1900 years without a country, dispersed through the world, and a major reason for that was their unity around the Sabbath once they lost their land (and temple). And that’s the verse I also referenced about the Sabbath in the 10 Commandments (and of course, that is the only command of the 10 not repeated to the Church in the New Testament)

    My eschatology does see a significance for Israel as a nation in the future, and now with the benefit of hindsight we see the Sabbath as a key means used by God to make that possible one day….but no Jew, past, present or future, is saved apart from Jesus Christ.

  44. Andrew says:

    Andrew – I am confused as to your reply. Where have you ever heard me say Jews are saved apart from Jesus. And why would you feel that was the response to the two quotes I pasted?

    Steve, what concerns me is what you wrote here:

    “it is the Sabbath that God says is between Him and Israel for perpetual generations to come.”

    This appears to be covenant language (BETWEEN GOD and ISRAEL) that you are finding meaning with in Jews since the destruction of the temple. Unless you realize that the Israel that God is speaking of is in fact the Spiritual Israel, I’m not sure how God can have a covenant with a people not his own.

  45. Steve Wright says:

    I see. Well, I could have been clearer as that was not my point. My point is that this one is not repeated for the Church in the NT – and even in the OT Israel is cited by name. Meanwhile they HAVE, just as a cultural reality, kept the Sabbath for their perpetual generations.

  46. Andrew says:

    BTW, there are plenty of Christians that do keep the Sabbath so its not just a Jewish thing either in the church. Some on Saturday and some that are Sabbatarians in defining Sunday as the new Christian Sabbath. I don’t subscribe to either of these views but they do exist in the church.

  47. Michael says:


    The reality is that to creature the Jesus of the “red letter” folks you have to remove about half of the red letters.
    Jesus spent a great deal of time offending people who then left after dinner…

  48. So has anyone gone to see the new Son of God movie? Was Jesus angry?

    I spoke with Rick Warren last Friday about the movie (we had Grand Father’s day at our church school and he has 2 grandkids in our school) – he had seen it and I haven’t.

    He said if it came down to it, he would prefer that people went to see the movie and miss church – which I took to mean that he thinks it’s pretty good.

    Anyone see it?

  49. No ne has seen it yet?

  50. Josh Hamrick says:


  51. MLD,
    I read online that if you watched “The Bible” mini-series, then you have seen the movie.
    They said it was just an edited down version of that.
    But, I didn’t watch that either.

  52. After reading this yesterday, I went and pulled “King’s Cross” by Tim Keller off one of my bookshelves.
    He used Mark for this book.

    Here is what he had to say on that passage:

    Why does Jesus become angry with the religious leaders? Because the Sabbath is about restoring the diminished. It’s about replenishing the drained. It’s about repairing the broken. To heal the man’s shriveled hand is to do exactly what the Sabbath is all about. Yet because the leaders are so concerned that Sabbath regulations be observed, they don’t want Jesus to heal this man- an incredible example of missing the forest for the trees. Their hearts are as shriveled as the man’s hand. They’re insecure and anxious about the regulations. They’re tribal , judgmental and self-obsessed instead of caring about the man. Why? Religion.

  53. covered says:

    Great observation by Keller.

  54. Josh Hamrick says:

    That is a good thought by Keller.

    I’ve been thinking more about the Sabbath as a form of ethnic identity for the Jews. That they’d stand out as Jews by their dietary laws, circumcision, and observing the Sabbath (per John Phillips commentary on Mark).
    So the Sabbath, in part, was a vehicle that god used to preserve His people so that Messiah would come through their lineage. The Sabbath was His vehicle for the Jews to fulfill their purpose in Him.
    I was thinking of what marker has Jesus given us that both separates us as His chosen people, and is the vehicle in which we can accomplish our purpose in Him.

    The world will know us because of our great love for one another.

    And that’s humbling to me.

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