Anger of Jesus
Mar 6, 2018
Anger of Jesus
Projecting human feelings onto God is problematic. God is unchanging in that He is perfectly happy in His eternal condition. The nature of God is not determined by the conditions of the world, rather the Condition of God determines the nature of the universe and all things in it. God is beautiful and good and can only create that which is good.
Seems otherwise when we read accounts like Noah’s Ark or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God appears as a vindictive God, shades of an angry Zeus casting thunderbolts from the Heavens.
In order to understand this so called anger of God we must instead understand the nature of Sin which contains within itself punishment like consequences. For example, if I drive my car 100 miles an hour into a brick wall it is not because of an angry God but a bad choice and if enough bad choices are made it not only has an impact on me individually but on all things.
When men wage war against one another entire peoples and countries are affected regardless of one’s innocence. Not only are people affected but as we see in the case of wars, entire landscapes are destroyed as well.
However, the event of the Incarnation changes things considerably.
In the person of Jesus Christ, God has a human heart and therefore like the rest of us is subjected to the influences of emotions. As Scripture says He was a man like us in all things but sin. And since anger is a very real human emotion it is one that Christ experienced as we know from today’s Gospel.
The nature of Jesus’ rage is not so much with people per say as it is with sin and how like a cancer it destroys and corrupts us. For example, when a person is seriously ill the doctor aggressively attacks the disease not the person suffering from it, though of course the person feels the “rage” of the doctor since it is within that person that the illness lies.
A good example of this is Jesus’ epic confrontation with death when He is informed that His very good friend Lazarus dies; though the Gospel text tells us Jesus wept, there is a moment standing before the tomb Jesus experiences rage. Why is it that Jesus weeps for His friend when He knows that in only a short while He will raise him from the dead?
He is not in anguish over the death of Lazarus, but rather saddened by the pain his friends and family member’s feel. He is weeping with those who weep because He loves them. The grief caused by death is one facet of death's evil that caused His anger. He is angry at death and saddened at grief. In both cases the reason is the same, namely, his love for his friends. The love of God for us and His wrath toward that which corrupts and destroys us are two sides of a single coin.
Jesus came to the tomb in this state of anger, ready to exercise his power over death and thereby initiating the process that will lead to His own death and decisive victory over it. Christ does not come to the tomb as an idle spectator or as another mourner, but rather like a boxer preparing for a brawl.
Prior to raising Lazarus from the dead, the Gospel report that Jesus groaned in His Spirit. This word “groaned” translated from the Greek in which the Gospel passage is written means “to snort with anger”. These words express Jesus being deeply moved but not necessarily with sorrow. It was more a groan of anger at Satan who had caused all this grief that Jesus was seeing around Him. As the Scripture’s remind us, Jesus came to "destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil", and He was grieved to see the pain that His enemy had inflicted on those He loved.
To give you a better image of the anger of Jesus, for those of you familiar with bull fighting…when a bull sees the Matador shaking that red cape…the bull becomes enraged and begins to snort and paw at the ground ready to unleash its rage in a furious assault upon the enemy Matador.
In a similar way, the Incarnation and Passion of Jesus Christ is how He unleashes His anger and fury at Satan, sin, suffering and death and like that maddened bull launches His entire person, body, heart, mind and soul like a battering ram into the very heart of man’s four greatest enemies.
However, the most important aspect of anger in the life of Christ is not so much the rage He felt but the rage He absorbed like a sponge that can absorb all the water in the world. Saint Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians we hear: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Jesus' victory over man's greatest enemy, death, is boldly stated in the letter to the Hebrews: "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage."
There is no more terrifying fear to face than dying and death. But as Lent reminds us, it is a journey we must all take…but that we take it with Christ, we have every confidence that we shall be led forth from that tomb of darkness to the restful waters and green meadows of everlasting peace, light, love and joy.