We don’t like to think of Jesus getting mad!
We love the Jesus who is kind, gentle, and accepting. We love the Jesus who loves us as we are. Full Stop. But actually, there should be a comma at the end of that sentence, not a full stop.
Jesus does indeed love us as we are, but he loves us way too much to leave us that way.
And so He does challenge. He does provoke. He does – at times – even get mad, because He wants us to wake up, and with His help, become better – more healed and whole. For our sake, and for the sake of those around us.
Last Sunday, Pete Gilbert gave a stirring message on Jesus’ response to the Pharisees’ failures in Matthew 23.
In this story, Jesus launches an anger-fuelled challenge on these ‘respected’ leaders of the day. They had the title of leader. They had the authority of a leader. They may even have had leadership talents and skills. But Jesus cuts through all of this to reveal that they have a big problem. It’s a problem with their character. Their heart.
They’re hypocritical, legalistic, self-centred, self-serving, proud, uncaring, exclusive, and cliquey. They lead people astray with their poor example and their priorities are seriously messed up… and those are just a few examples.
This is not what healthy life and leadership is supposed to look like. Jesus makes it clear that if they live their life like this, if they lead like this, then it’s all going to end in tears. Over and over again he says, “What sorrow will befall those who behave like this.”
Jesus calls them out! To change. To embrace a different way of being. To lead with a different example, rooted in God’s forgiveness for what’s been and God’s help for what’s to come. To instead be grace-filled, humble, dependable, consistent, trustworthy, faithful, vulnerable and authentic. Living like Jesus. Good news for them, good news for those around them.
People didn’t feel good when they were around the Pharisees. They felt bad about themselves. What a sad indictment on religion? No wonder Jesus was mad.
It was Maya Angelou who once said…
“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said,
but they will always remember how you made them feel.”
May God help us to change so that when we’re with people they feel loved, accepted, welcomed, strengthened, comforted, and, where necessary, graciously and gently challenged. May the Holy Spirit to live in such a way that pleased God, and is good news to people.