Anger is an interesting topic. I grew up surrounded by it. A festering, boiling, stinking presence that constantly hung in the air. It didn’t always manifest in words or actions, yet the presence of it was palpable. I never knew when it would reveal itself. All I knew was that I lived in constant fear of anger.
Even though anger was ever-present in the shadows, ironically it was never allowed to be expressed (except for certain people). It created a deep belief that to be angry was a great and grievous sin swiftly punished. (I supposed anger does not like competition) As a result, anytime I felt anger, I scolded myself and stuffed it down. I put on a smile and pretended – or rather ignored – those feelings.
The result was, that as I got older and so much anger had been stuffed, it would “leak”. Just like the festering, boiling, stinking presence I mentioned above. Since my conscience would not allow visible feelings of anger, my internal conversations became toxic.
ANGER TURNED INWARD
As I could “smell” and sense anger boiling below the surface of others, so, too, I took on the same traits – though not to the same extent. I hated the anger I saw in others and how I could feel it when I was around them. I didn’t want to be the same way. At the same time, I didn’t know what to do with anger. For me, it was terrible to express it in any way. So I turned it on myself.
I became angry at myself and critical of others. Since I didn’t want to be angry at others, I used journaling as a sort of release valve. As much as I would be mortified if any read those journals, I see now that it was a very healthy practice. It didn’t address the core issue, but only served to release some of the pressure.
Over the years, God has healed my heart, cleaned out the deep parts in me so I no longer stink of the rottenness of festering anger. Yet I still don’t entirely understand the role and purpose of anger – or have a solid grasp on always the right way to express it.
JESUS AND ANGER
God’s word says that we are to be angry – but not to sin.
Um, what in the world does that look like?
I’m looking at Jesus in Mark 11 and honestly, I’m scratching my head. Jesus is riding on a donkey into Jerusalem and everyone is freaking out because he is a celebrity. They’ve heard about his miracles and all the healings and I’m sure they are thinking that they are going to get a bit of that. Also, the Jews believed that the Messiah was going to overthrow the Romans – so I’m sure they thought he was coming to wipe out the soldiers and leadership. The high priests were probably hoping they were going to be promoted as well (you know, ruling the world and all). At the very least, all the Jews in Jerusalem thought there was going to be a major shift in their favor that week. Well, there was…but not as they expected. (I digress…this is another topic)
JESUS NEEDS A SNICKERS BAR
Anyway, as Jesus enters Jerusalem, he goes straightaway to the temple and scripture says he “looked around at everything” and then left because it was late. It’s not hard to realize that his inspection of the temple angered him greatly because it was the next morning that he made a big scene and kicked everyone out. But it is the things that happened in between that have me curious.
We can accurately assume he stayed with Mary, Martha, & Lazarus – with them being his close friends and all, and they lived in Bethany. We already know Martha’s love of cooking and serving big meals, but Mark 11:12 says that Jesus was hungry the next morning. Did Jesus stay up all night and not eat breakfast because he was so upset? When I’m upset, I can’t sleep and even though I’m ravenous, I don’t have the stomach for food. Is that what happened to Jesus?
Since he was hungry, he walked up to a fig tree looking for fruit; but the Bible says it was out of season. So what does the Son of God do to a tree that isn’t supposed to have fruit on it, but he’s hungry anyway? He lashes out in anger and curses it.
Was Jesus agitated, tired and hungry and that’s why he lashed out? The disciples were probably just as puzzled as I am. They probably thought he lost his mind. Then Jesus walks into the temple and goes into a rage.
Whoa. My first thought is to hand Jesus a Snickers bar! His blood sugar must be out of whack. I get why he is angry. If anyone else did this, we would have said it was an overreaction. But Jesus was perfect…and God. It wasn’t an overreaction. The Bible said it was passion and zeal.
LIKE NOTHING HAPPENED
The next morning, Jesus and the disciples walked by the fig tree again, but now it is dead. The disciples inquire about it and Jesus calmly gives a poised, poignant lesson in faith, belief, and power. There’s no mention of why he acted the way he did.
I feel like I am missing something.
I can understand the righteousness of the anger in the temple, but how is it so with the fig tree? I’m reminded of a post I did previously on the fig tree which reveals that while there was no fruit, there should have been a berry in the presence of leaves on the tree. Was that why Jesus was upset? Or was he acting out of frustration over what he knew was coming in the temple?
I don’t know. I’m still wondering when is expressing anger okay versus when does it cross the line into sin? I can honestly say that I rarely get angry, and if I do, I have a sense of peace while dealing with a situation, but if I do fly off the handle, afterward I always profusely apologize. Jesus didn’t. I’m curious about that.
Would love to hear your thoughts!