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Mark 3 Anger

August 21, 2007

Mark 2:23-3:7And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; 26 how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”3:1 He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. 2 They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. 3 He said to the man with the withered hand, ” Get up and come forward!” 4 And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. 5 After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him. 7 Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples;

I very much want to pull from the Matthew (Matthew 12:1-15) and the Luke (Luke 6:1-11) accounts to help interpret meaning, but Matthew and Luke had their own ideas on what to pull from this story. So we focus just on Mark’s account. But if you read the Matthew and Luke accounts, it does create a couple of questions regarding Mark’s…

  1. Why is it that Mark is the only one that mentions Jesus getting ANGRY and grieved at the same time?
  2. Why does Mark use a word (sullupeo) that nobody else does in the New Testament? Grief appears a lot in the New Testament, using a word lupeo. But this word in Mark is sul-lupeo. It adds a twist to the original idea. Not just grief and sadness, but to grieve with oneself. It’s like multiple grievings. It’s like one half of you is grieving with the other half. It’s grieving together with yourself. I wonder if it can only be used of a Triune God? Anyway, pressing on. I want to focus on question #1. #2 is just a freebie. 🙂

In an attempt to answer #1, we’ll look at the words of that key phrase “After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart…”

“Anger” in Mark 3:5 — Of the 36 times that word for anger is used in the NT, over 30 times it’s actually translated wrath, often referring to the wrath of God (especially in Romans). This is not simply upset. This is full fury. This is deep emotion with the strength to back it up. This is serious.

But what a combination, following right after that… deep grief and sadness.

“Grieved at their hardness of heart” in Mark 3:5 — Regarding the ‘grieved,’ see #2 above. The hardness — literally it means to turn to stone; figuratively it means to make stupid or blind. The word is only used 3 times in the NT. Once in Romans 11:25 and once in Ephesians 4:18. I think the Ephesians use is more straightforward:

Eph 4:17-24

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Back to Mark 3, Jesus was grieved (DEEPLY) that the folks in the synagogue (Pharisees) were not walking with God, but walking in darkness, being callous, out of their own ignorance, which was their own doing. They were stuck in an old way of life and had no interest in getting out. They did not understand that Jesus was Lord of the Sabbath; Jesus illustrates that the Sabbath was not a rule to be followed without exception, but that it was a construction made for man. Man was to rest and enjoy the Sabbath because God did. The Pharisees did not understand this and disagreed with it. They did not understand that a man’s life and the renewal of it was more important than following a law to the T. They thought the observation of the Sabbath was more important than taking care of those for whom the Sabbath was made.

And this made Jesus ANGRY and GRIEVED all at the same time. Why? Why is Mark the only one to record Jesus’ emotions on this? The overall point that human life is more important than following rules is made apparent. I’m not questioning that. I am wondering: what can be learned about anger?

Let me throw this out there and please respond. I think a key is that they were silent after Jesus asks the question. That was their chance to recognize with Him that LIFE is important. But no. All the Pharisees cared about was proving Jesus wrong or finding Him contradicting their beliefs so they could string Him up. They had no concern for this crippled man, his well being, his future, his past. Nothing. He was nothing to them. His state was nothing to him. And I think that is what angered Jesus. These people who had the Teachings, the Prophets and the Writings (the Old Testament) didn’t get it. And not just a stupid ignorance, but a willful ignorance.

I don’t want to loss the overall meaning of the passage, but it is telling that Jesus gets so angry. When human life is not cared for, when people (especially those who should) have no interest in another’s well being, anger and grief are to come. Grief for sure. It is a sad thing when life is taken or mistreated or fill-in-the-blank-here, but anger should not be reduced either. Like Jesus, we should be angry when life is not cared for.

I am impressed that Jesus was angry at them for not caring about life. And then HEALS the guy. Jesus cared about him. Jesus cared about some guy with a messed up hand and wanted him to be whole. We should want that too.

One last thought as I was about to hit Post… or was Jesus angry because the Pharisees were in a sense twisting the Law and using the Law as the reason for not caring about the man by prohibiting his healing on the Sabbath? Discuss, discuss…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 22, 2007 6:25 am

    When human life is not cared for, when people (especially those who should) have no interest in another’s well being, anger and grief are to come. Grief for sure. It is a sad thing when life is taken or mistreated or fill-in-the-blank-here, but anger should not be reduced either. Like Jesus, we should be angry when life is not cared for.

    Well said. That could be expanded, though, too. In other words, not only were the leaders of the people personally not caring about this man (a sin), but they were … the leaders of the people. Essentially they were being an example to those around them of what a follower of God was to do in this situation.

    I want to take that further, but I am not sure how to put it into words yet. Thanks for the thoughtful, and thought-provoking entry.

  2. Del permalink
    October 14, 2007 8:14 am

    Why does Mark use a word (sullupeo) that nobody else does in the New Testament? Grief appears a lot in the New Testament, using a word lupeo. But this word in Mark is sul-lupeo. It adds a twist to the original idea. Not just grief and sadness, but to grieve with oneself. It’s like multiple grievings. It’s like one half of you is grieving with the other half. It’s grieving together with yourself. I wonder if it can only be used of a Triune God? Anyway, pressing on. I want to focus on question #1. #2 is just a freebie.

    Response:

    I have been fixated on this verse for months now. I have had the exact same thoughts concerning the unique use of this word sullupeo or sunllupeo and the Trinity. I’m surprised that no well known commentators have picked up on this. Some commentators suggest that the “sun” is connected with the anger. But if the suggested translation “to grieve along with” holds true, then Jesus is grieving “with” someone, namely the other Personages of the Trinity. The trouble with the translation is that there are few usages, even in ancient literature, to help us to explore this more. Do you know of other uses?

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