Have you ever gotten angry at church? How about at things that happen at or about church? Or maybe you've gotten angry about something entirely different.
For a while -- everyone loved Jesus. Until he started to say things they didn't like. Things that sounded like this:
“You don’t really respect me. I’m going to say stuff that is going to make your brains hurt and that will make you angry. You think that you’re the ones who are the oppressed? You’re the oppressors! You don’t get it! Just because there are people being healed and there’s a whole bunch of people following me, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to somehow become rich or powerful. Quit thinking of yourselves and notice that I’m talking about God’s good news for the whole world!”
The people thought they were in an exclusive club and that other folks weren't allowed. Jesus said otherwise.
Anyone who heard harsh words similar to that from someone they thought was going to let them reap some rewards might get angry. They did. They tried to push him over the edge of a cliff
But then he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
Some want to make this into a “Jesus became untouchable” or “Jesus passed through them as if they were just air” or “Jesus raised his arms and calmed the storm of people.” They count this event among the miracles attributed to Jesus.
But maybe the people were angry, but not angry enough to kill.
There were always debates in the temple. Sometimes the debates got heated. I don’t know if there were any other times where the people tried to throw someone off a cliff.
Maybe someone got the attention of the crowd and said. “Wait! What are we doing? Are we going to kill this teacher because we don’t like what he said? Are we going to kill this healer because he’s not going to do magic for us? Are we going to kill this child of Nazareth because he’s not giving us license to gain power and wealth because we knew him when he was a kid?”
Maybe they all took a deep breath, thought about Jesus’ message of Good news being for everyone, and watched, thoughtfully, as he walked away.
I wonder if we can, in those moments or even seasons of anger, take a breath. Pause. Breathe again.
Anger is delicious and energizing at first -- but it becomes toxic -- health-diminishing -- dangerous.
Does taking a breath, pausing, and breathing again make everything better?
No -- but it can help.