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Indignant Like Jesus


By Doug Holliday

Indignant – adjective

feeling, characterized by, or expressing strong displeasure at something considered unjust, offensive, insulting, or base. 

What makes me indignant? Do my feelings mirror those of Christ?

There are only two times in the gospels (NIV translation) where it speaks of Jesus being indignant. Certainly there were more than two occasions where Jesus felt this emotion. Wasn’t it indignation He felt when He turned the tables of the money changers over and chased them out of the temple… twice? Wasn’t it indignation He felt when He rebuked the Pharisees with seven woes? Yet only twice do the gospel writers say Jesus was indignant.

While Matthew and Luke use the word to describe the feelings of the disciples, Pharisees and synagogue leaders, only Mark records Jesus being indignant.

Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!‘”

Mark 1:41

When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.‘”

Mark 10:14

Two times we read of Jesus being indignant. Both times it is because people were being prevented from coming to Him.

The man with leprosy was a social outcast. He wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near Jesus. Timidly, but desperately, he asked, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” It says Jesus was indignant. Who was He indignant with? The man with leprosy? I don’t think so. The onlookers who stood there with disgust on their faces? Probably. The injustice of a system that would treat a person in need of grace and compassion with fear and rejection instead? Definitely!

Indignation drove Jesus to action. He reached out His hand and touched the untouchable. “I am willing. Be clean!

Passover week was fast approaching. Thousands were making their way to Jerusalem for the festivities with family in tow. Parents were bringing their little children to Jesus for Him to bless. The disciples chased them away. In their minds, Jesus shouldn’t be bothered with little children, he had important Messiah stuff to be doing, right?

Jesus again was indignant. Don’t stop anyone from coming to me, especially the little children!

Indignation drove Jesus to action. He took the little children in His arms, placed His hands on them, and blessed them.

Jesus became indignant when religious types shut out those who needed Him. When grace and compassion are needed, but instead fear, rejection or ambivalence are given, indignation is in order.

And when indignation is in order, it’s not meant to be bottled up. What’s bottled up turns sour. Indignation is meant to be a fuel for righteousness. Indignation must ignite action, or it will burn us up inside.

What makes me indignant?

Does my indignation drive me to action? Does yours? If we’re going to be indignant, let it be about those things that thwart the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His kingdom mission in this world.

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By Doug Holliday. Used with permission.

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