Thursday, May 28, 2015

Indignation Jesus' Way

I read this for one of this week's morning readings.

Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law. Psalms 119:53

I was struck by that 'hot indignation'. That's really quite strong. (Some translations have it as 'rage'.) But as I thought about it, it did make sense. The writer is reacting to fellow Jews who are forsaking God's law. And in doing that they are forsaking God. These folk are turning away from God by turning away from His law. And that bothers our author because he is convinced that the God of Israel is worthy of whole-hearted worship and which shows as obedience.

It appears, then, that there is a time for rage.

But this is incomplete. If left like this it may well be misunderstood and misapplied. So, let me also mention how Jesus expressed rage at those who were forsaking their God.

Consider the time when Jesus was in a synagogue on a Sabbath. There was a man whose hand was all shriveled up. He could not use it. And there were people there, people who probably knew the man, who were waiting to see if Jesus would heal him. If He did, they were ready to pounce. Jesus was enraged - as He should have been. They were forsaking God's law instead of caring about the man.

But read how Mark describes Jesus.

And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart … (Mark 3:5)

Jesus was angry. There was some very hot indignation here. But He was also grieved. These men had become less than the humanity that God had intended. And that is always sad.

So, I suppose I need to edit what I wrote above. Yes, 'there is a time for rage'. But I think that I can say that the rage needs to have a note of sadness that the anger is necessary. That grief does not trump the anger. Jesus still got angry. But it adds an important dimension. Without it we will be forsaking God's law.