Are you familiar with the term “righteous anger?” The phrase is often used when someone has wronged us so unjustly that we say, “I have every right to be angry.” And then to justify our outburst, we’ll add, “Jesus showed righteous anger, didn’t He?”
Well, yes, He did. But it’s important to notice what triggered His anger. The first time we see Jesus become angry was when He entered the temple and found it had become a place for taking advantage of the poor. Jesus was furious because by doing so, God was not being respected.
Jesus also displayed anger whenever people were taken advantage of, mistreated, or shown contempt. Remember when the disciples wouldn’t allow children to visit with Jesus? Jesus became indignant and called them out for their actions. In each of these instances, Jesus displayed righteous anger.
But understand this: Jesus only became angry when others were mistreated. Jesus never got angry when HE was the target of injustice and abuse. That’s a big difference.
So, how did Jesus react when He was the target of injustice? Take a look at Jesus’ response when He was unfairly sentenced to death, the ultimate act of personal injustice: “Father, forgive them,” He prayed.
When Jesus was the target of unfair life and death accusations – He didn’t become angry. He had every right to – but Jesus chose forgiveness. Jesus trusted God with the final word, the ultimate justice. We’re called to do the same.