And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he said to the man…
I. BUT IS ANGER A PASSION WHICH IT WAS RIGHT FOR CHRIST TO SHOW AND TO FEEL? And if it were right for Christ, is it equally right for us? The answer to the first question is simple enough. As the Holy One, the very presence of evil must be abhorrent to Him. He may be reconciled to the sinner, but He can never be reconciled to sin. His whole nature revolts from the evil thing. It was not then the mere ebullition of passion. It was not a sudden outburst of rage. It was righteous wrath. It was the emotion which stirred His whole being, just because sin is the utterly opposite of Himself. The trained eye is offended with that which is distorted and ugly; the trained ear is pained beyond expression with that which violates the very elements of harmony; and the perfect heart loathes and cannot but be angry with sin. Can there be any doubt that Christ's anger with sin in these men also glanced at their relations with other men? "No man liveth unto himself." He was angry at the blighting influence of the men's lives. Yet there was no sin in Christ's anger, although Christ was angry with sin. While His anger was strong His pity was yet Divine. He was sorrowful at the thought of what it all meant, and would yet Himself rescue them from the snare. Anger and grief were blent together in the same mind, just because in His mind there was perfect holiness, and there was perfect love; for it is not the stirring and agitation of the waters that troubles and defiles them, but the sediment at the bottom. Where there is no sediment, mere agitation will not create impurity. There was none in Christ. His anger was the anger of a holy Being at sin, at the devil's corruption of God's creature. His grief was for man, God's offspring. He hated the thing which alienated the sons from the Father. The anger may well make us tremble, but should not the pity make us trust?
II. IF IT WERE RIGHT IN CHRIST TO BE ANGRY WITH SIN, IS IT EQUALLY RIGHT AND BECOMING IN US? We are always right in being angry with sin. But just here is the difficulty. We are angry not so much at sin as at something in it which affects and inconveniences us. It is not that which is opposed to the holy law of God which most commonly makes us angry, but that which brings us some petty discomfort and trouble. We see how sin injures others. Purity will bring its own anger. Remember, however, that anger with sin is not something permitted; it is an emotion demanded. "Ye that love the Lord, hate evil." But our anger must be interblent with pity. Christ sought to give these hard-hearted men another chance. He did not permit them to hinder His work. He would have won them if only they would have opened their hearts to the truth. It is Christ's great love alone which can fill our souls with unwearied compassion for sinners. Beware, then, of thinking that anger with sin is enough. It is but one-half of our work. Pity is the other half.
(J. J. Goadby.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
WEB: When he had looked around at them with anger, being grieved at the hardening of their hearts, he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored as healthy as the other.