The Lord and His Anger | Mark 3:1–6
Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 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. 5 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. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
In case you’re unsure of how the Pharisees viewed Jesus Christ in their previous encounters (2:1–11; 13–17; 18–22; 23–28), they demonstrate their growing hatred and hard-hearted attitudes toward Him. Last time, we read this passage focusing on the love of the Lord in the Law. Now, we look at His anger.
Notice first the extremes to which the Pharisees were willing to go. They wouldn’t answer Jesus’s simple question (v. 4), having already decided against Him. So, they go to the Herodians (v. 6), a political party in Israel that supported the Roman-appointed King Herod. These were Hellenist Jews, those who embraced the Greek and Roman world around them—not separate like the Pharisees. The Pharisees would avoid these who they saw as compromisers and traitors, and the disdain was mutual. Yet, we read that they conspire together—animosity against Jesus makes strange bedfellows.
So, it shouldn’t surprise us that Jesus gets angry. Anger is part of God. He created us in His image, anger and all, so anger’s not sinful in itself (though we, as sinners, too often express it sinfully—cf. Eph 4:26). God’s angry with the wicked every day (Ps 7:11), and Jesus likewise became angry at this duplicity (v. 5). Yet, Jesus will still deliver all Who believe in Him from the wrath that is to come (1 Th 1:10). Why?
Jesus also grieves. We see that His anger moves to deep pity that their hearts are so hardened to the truth. Jesus knew when they were questioning in their hearts (2:6–8), and now He sees that their hearts are hardened to the truth. A hard heart indicates a rebellion against the Lord (Ps. 95:8; Heb. 3:8, 15), which is cause for the Lord’s anger, but also His sadness. A similar term is used in Ephesians 4:30 in the command, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” The Lord would rather see sinners repent. As God commands in Ezekiel 18:32, “I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”