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Did Jesus Ever Sin Or Get Angry?

By: Reverend Steve Whitters, D.Th.

Date:  30 July 2014

Selected passages from the Gospels

Many Christian scholars have pointed to Jesus' "cleansing of the temple" as an example of righteous anger. Below are other instances where Jesus expressed anger in word or deed.

Addressing the Pharisees
Matthew 23

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! ... Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.

Healing the Man with the Withered Hand
Mark 3

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. And they watched him, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come here." And he said to them, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out, and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

Rebuking Peter
Mark 3

...he began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men." And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.

Predicting the Passion
Mark 8

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard it. And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he taught, and said to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers." And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and sought a way to destroy him; for they feared him, because all the multitude was astonished at his teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city. As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, "Master, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered."

Cursing the Fig Tree and Cleansing the Temple
Mark 11

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard it. And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he taught, and said to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers." And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and sought a way to destroy him; for they feared him, because all the multitude was astonished at his teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city. As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, "Master, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered."

Blessing the Children
Mark 10

And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.

Curing a Demoniac
Mark 1

And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God." But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.

Rebuking the Disciples

Matthew, Luke and Mark

Jesus was more severe with his male disciples than anyone else. He rebuked Peter, calling him Satan. Matthew 16:23. He rebuked James and John for wanting to call down fire from heaven to burn up the Samaritan village. Luke 9:55. And He rebuked the eleven male disciples for not believing the women’s testimony. Mark 16:14. However, Jesus never rebuked women.

Review

Is it right for you to be angry?” God asked Jonah (4:4). Is it right for a Christian to be angry? Anger, if not controlled, is a very dangerous emotion and can lead to murder.

The first person to be angry in the Old Testament is found in Genesis 4:5, “Cain was very angry and downcast.” God had accepted his brother’s sacrifice but not his. What did he do with his anger? “Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.”

The first person to be angry in the New Testament (Mt 2:17), “Herod was furious on realizing that he had been fooled by the wise men.” What did he do with his anger? “In Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were two years old or less.”

Although we were told to love one another and to forgive our enemies, Jesus was often quite angry. Jesus got very frustrated with His disciples. Matthew 17:17 reads, “Faithless and perverse generation! How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you?” Jesus had righteous indignation at the sellers in the temple. John 2:15, 16: “Making a whip out of cord, he drove them all out of the Temple, sheep and cattle as well, scattered the money changers’ coins, knocked their tables over and said to the dove sellers, ‘Take all this out of here and stop using my Father’s house as a market.” Mostly, Jesus was angry at the Pharisees. Mark 3:1: “Then he looked angrily round at them, grieved to find them so obstinate, and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’”

Amazingly, Jesus never got angry with the women. Jesus corrected five women. They were definitely not rebuked as some commentators/preachers have alleged. Jesus only rebuked the wind, sea, demons, unclean spirits, fever and men.

Jesus was more severe with his male disciples than anyone else. He rebuked Peter, calling him Satan. Matthew 16:23. He rebuked James and John for wanting to call down fire from heaven to burn up the Samaritan village. Luke 9:55. And He rebuked the eleven male disciples for not believing the women’s testimony. Mark 16:14. However, Jesus never rebuked women.

Let us examine the verses pertaining to women. Notice how Jesus leads them ever so gently, no names, and no harsh critical words. In fact, Jesus always uplifts them, guarding their honor, hearing them, blessing them.

Luke 2:48, 49, “They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’ He replied, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’”

Luke 11:27, 28, “It happened that as he was speaking, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said, ‘Blessed the womb that bore you and the breasts that fed you!’ But he replied, ‘More blessed still are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’”

John 2:3-5, “And they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the feast had all been used, and the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said, ‘Woman, what do you want from me? My hour has not come yet.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you… tasted the water, and it had turned into wine.’”

Luke 10:41, 42, “But the Lord answered, ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said, ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part, and it is not to be taken from her.’”

Matthew 15:24-28, “He said in reply, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.’ But the woman had come up and was bowing low before him. ‘Lord,’ she said, ‘help me.’ He replied, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to little dogs.’ She retorted, ‘Ah yes, Lord; but even little dogs eat the scraps that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, you have great faith. Let your desire be granted.’ And from that moment her daughter was well again.”

Also, Mark 11:27-29, “And he said to her, ‘The children should be fed first, because it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to little dogs.’ But she spoke up, ‘Ah yes, sir,’ she replied, ‘but little dogs under the table eat the scraps from the children.’ And he said to her, ‘For saying this you may go home happy; the devil has gone out of your daughter.’”

Luke 11:39, “Jesus said, ‘Take the stone away.’ Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, ‘Lord, by now he will smell; this is the fourth day since he died.’ Jesus replied, ‘Have I not told you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?’”

John 20:17, “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

No matter how often and to what degree Jesus was angry, he never sinned; he was always in complete control. Anger only becomes a problem when it is not controlled, when is it not directed at the right cause, and when it is not appropriate. Jesus was angry as an expression of His zealous, holy devotion to God. His righteous anger had nothing to do with Himself. It was always on account of other’s sinfulness or their lack of faith, both of which affected those around them and those wanting to get into the kingdom of God. His reaction was also directed only at those with whom He was angry. He never took it out on anyone else, and His actions were also appropriate to the cause. Most importantly, Jesus’ anger was exclusively motivated by love, even to forgiving those who crucified Him until His dying breath.

Jesus made it very clear we were not to judge others, not even to call someone a fool because names are destructive, demeaning, and abusive. Matthew 5:22. A little further on in the scriptures, Jesus explains why. Mt. 7:3 reads, “Hypocrite! Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.” Jesus was able to expose the Pharisees, calling them “Fools and blind!” because He was perfect. Matthew 23:17. As long as you are without sin, you may cast stones.

Now, we will consider all the verses where Jesus is angry.

VERSE CHART- Viewable MS Excel format:  Was Jesus Ever Angry.xlsx (Found in Documents/Bible Stuff).

Clearly, Jesus was not afraid and even justified in calling the religious leaders names. He continuously exposed their wicked traditions, their motives, and their sins. No one knows what Jesus wrote on the ground in John 8:6, but all those men left from the oldest to the youngest; and since He knew their hearts, He revealed enough to make them all leave.

Jesus got very angry with the religious leaders because they were keeping the people from the truth of God, Mt. 23:13, 14. The Pharisees were always trying to trap Jesus, but He, in turn, exposed their evil, “these are the men who take advantage of widows and rob them of their homes,” Mark. 12:40. Two verses later Jesus points to “the widow with two little copper coins, worth about a penny.” He was not praising her, he was admonishing the men. Because the Pharisees were the only ones who could study the law and teach it, the people were at their mercy for instruction, plus the rulers made many extra laws which the people could not keep. The ones who would have been affected the most were the women since they could not study the scriptures themselves, and they had no rights and no voice. That reason is why Jesus made sure Mary of Bethany stayed at His feet.

The most significant finding in this study was that Jesus was never angry with the women. They were not his enemies; they followed Him. They supported him financially and had great faith. They listened and worshipped Him in truth. They loved Jesus.

The most important message Jesus was telling us: Righteous anger is good because it motivates us to do what is right. Personal anger is bad because it motivates us to do what is wrong (sin).

James 1:19, 20 says, “Remember this: everyone should be quick to listen but slow to speak and slow to anger; human anger does not achieve God’s righteous purpose.”

Ephesians 4:26, 27 says, “Even if you are angry, do not sin: never let the sun set on your anger or else you will give the devil a foothold.”