"Defusing Your Anger"
Luke 22: 42-53
One week before his crucifixion Jesus was caught in a storm of anger. Anger is a very normal human reaction. The average man loses his temper six times a week, the average woman, three times. Men are more physical with their anger than women and single people express anger twice as much as married people. Jesus got angry. In the Old Testament it says 375 times God became angry.
There's a right way and a wrong way to express anger. It can hurt or help. Let's look at four ways people express anger as we look at this scene of Jesus' arrest.
1. "Blazing" Anger. This person explodes. They get violent, yell, cuss, throw things etc. One of Jesus' disciples anger blazed out of control and cut off the ear of the slave of the high priest. This type of person "burns" anyone or anything in their path when their anger flares up. They soon regret it and apologize. It flares up quickly and it blows over like a thunder storm.
2. "Brooding" Anger. This is exactly the opposite. This is the silent type. They hold it in and stew on it. This is "crock-pot" type of anger, stewing and simmering on the inside. When I swallow my anger my stomach keeps score. Judas must have had high blood pressure, ulcers, headaches, backaches and all kinds of stress related illness. He covered up his anger. Then he pretends to "kiss" Jesus. Judas knew the kiss was just going to seal Jesus' death sentence. Judas had kept his anger on the inside until he took it out on himself and committed suicide later on.
3. "Benevolent" Anger. Now that may sound strange. But take a look at Jesus in this scene. Right after his disciple took out a sword and attacked the high priest's servant, he shouts in anger, "No more of this!" His anger is focused on the hurt and pain of another person. It is like a parent finding two brothers fighting and in anger says, "Enough of this!" Jesus' anger expressed concern and love for others. When we see injustice, poverty, crime, hunger we should be angry at these evils in our society. This anger motivates us to do something good to end injustice. "Be angry but do not sin."
4. "Bullying" Anger. The religious leaders couldn't change Jesus with persuasion so they resort to force and power. Jesus really jibes them with, "Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit?" The religious leaders of Jesus day used underhanded and manipulation to get back at Jesus.
While they were very "nice" to Jesus in public, they cut him behind his back. In bitter divorce cases one party uses the force of an attorney to "bully" the other party. So the Jews used the Romans to bully Jesus in their anger.
In this swirling storm of anger, Jesus is arrested and taken away to be tried and crucified. How did he handle it?
HOW TO DEFUSE ANGER - Jesus' Example
1. Jesus understood the cause of anger. "A man's wisdom gives him patience." (Pr. 19:11) Jesus was so wise he could understand what was happening to him and why people were angry. There are basically three reason why we get angry:
A) When I hurt I get angry. Those boys in Arkansas were "hurt" emotionally. They got angry at everyone, especially girls - who they thought was the cause of their pain.
B) Frustration causes anger. The Jews were so frustrated that Jesus was winning converts and they were losing them. "Rode rage" is a sign of frustration on the highway.
C) Insecurity causes anger. We get angry when we are threatened. You back an animal into a corner and they will fight back. When you attack my self worth, when you embarrass me, criticize me, and I feel insecure, I'm going to fight back. I'm going to get angry. Jesus teaching upset the "apple cart" and made the religious establishment very insecure. So they became enraged.
2. "Put away your sword" Jesus knew that anger wouldn't solve his problem. He is saying don't let your emotions control you. Think. Don't be a victim of your moods. When we get angry our mouth runs faster than out minds. Our tongues can be a deadly and sharp as a sword. A sharp tongue is the quickest way to cut your own throat. If you blow your stack you're creating more pollution.
Have you ever been in a heated argument at home with your wife or kids and the phone rings? What happens? Sudden change in tone of voice and mood!!!
You can put away your "sword" at any time!
Jesus did - even on the cross. While they were spearing him with taunts and nails and thorns what did he say, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." When you are the recipient of someone's anger - your shield is the shield of forgiveness. Their "arrows" can't find a permanent place in a forgiving attitude.
3. Put Your Trust In the Lord. When your blood begins to boil you need to take yourself off the stove and put yourself into the hands of God. You need to step back and say, "Lord, cool me off with your peace." That's what Jesus did.
When his life was in a squeeze he didn't fight back. Jesus faced a literal "deadline" but remained calm and cool and collected right to the end. When the world puts the pressure on you and the deadlines are coming in and the people around you are increasing the level of demands and expectations, you are in a squeeze. Whatever is inside you is going to come out. When you are asking God to fill you with peace—he will and that will come out.
The last week of Jesus life was nothing but chaos and darkness. He couldn't control the outcome, he couldn't change the way things were. But he didn't let anger control him. He trusted in the Lord. Jesus said to his disciples, "Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Trust in God, trust also in me." (John 14:1,2)
What is "burning you up?" What lights your "fuse?" Ask the Lord, right now to fill you with his Spirit as you trust in him to work it all out for you. He can replace your anger with His peace. Amen.