Written by Bruce Osborn, Director of Spiritual Development
A Spiritual Reflection
If you are a reader, you understand how sometimes a word, or a sentence can simply jump off the page, as if you have never read it before. And when that happens with Scripture (a rather common occurrence for me), I usually learn a new principle of the Christian life, gain a deeper understanding of Jesus, or discover a truth that I’ve never considered before.
Let me give you an example. There are many interpretations of who Jesus was when He walked on the earth. Some would say He was the perfect picture of God’s grace. Some might point to his compassion as his defining characteristic. While others would say Jesus was a man who loved all. These are all true, but there are many pictures painted in Scripture of just who this Jesus was and is. While this article is not meant to dive into all the details of who Jesus’ character, let me share one of the instances in his ministry that jumped off the page for me this morning.
In Mark’s gospel there is a story recorded of one of the many times the religious leaders of the day were seeking to find guilt in Jesus, to accuse him of breaking one of the many laws that were established by the Jews, his own people. It was the Sabbath and a man came to Jesus with a need for healing. For the Jews, it was unlawful to do anything on the Sabbath, the day of rest. Jesus asked the leaders, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” Mark goes on to say that Jesus, “looked around at them in anger,” and was “deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts” (Mark 3:1-6).
What jumped off the page as I read that account this morning is Jesus’ anger. How can Jesus, full of grace, love, and compassion be angry? How can he be so upset at these people and still love them? He can because He’s God. No way am I able to express both love and anger in the same breath because I’m not capable in my finite mind and heart. Those emotions just don’t seem to go together. And you probably struggle with it too. And here’s another reality of that account. More times than I care to mention, I am like those leaders and Jesus looks at me and is “deeply distressed at (my) stubborn heart.” Can you relate? If you are honest, you probably can.
When Jesus looks at his creation, I think he experiences quite a few emotions; love, compassion, care, grace, mercy, long-suffering, and so much more of those feel-good ways our culture interprets who he is. But let’s not forget that he also feels anger and distress when he sees us pursuing our own ways, straying from his perfect plan, or celebrating anything contrary to his ways. And even in that anger, because he is God, he loves. It’s just who he is. How will you respond to his love for you today? Maybe we all should do so with a change of heart.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” -Colossians 3:1