Jesus got angry; he was indignant. The words struck me hard. So hard that I ran to my Bible commentaries to see if the words were correct.
I was listening to my pastor preach about Jesus healing a leper in Mark 1:40-45 and in verse 41, Mark recounts that Jesus was “filled with compassion.” Yet some translations read, “became angry (indignant).”
Many scholars believe the best translation is that Jesus was angry or indignant. But why? And why would some translate it “filled with compassion?”
So I’ve been asking myself for several weeks now, what is the difference between compassion and anger? Sounds strange, I know. But when you think about it, there is a link between the two emotions.
The first time I drove into a colonia in South Texas, I was angry; angry that people living in America would live in such conditions. I was indignant that children would have to bathe standing in a plastic tub with a water hose running over them. I remember the anger I felt the first time I entered an overcrowded Russian orphanage 20 years ago.
Now I realize that oftentimes, anger is the first step to compassion.
Whether Jesus was angry or compassionate, the end result is he was moved to do something for a man covered with leprosy who “came to him and begged him on his knees.”
It could be argued that compassion is anger that results in action. Without action, we’re just angry people. But when our anger and indignant feelings cause us to act, we become compassionate. Can you imagine Jesus being angry at the leper’s condition and then just walking away without healing the man?
So maybe we need to take our cue from Jesus and get angry about the conditions of people around us. Then do something about it.
Scott Collins is the Vice President of Communications for Buckner International. This piece originally appeared in the Buckner Today Spring 2016 magazine.