In Matthew 5:21, Jesus basically equates anger with murder, which puts all of us in the same boat, sinking into the depths of the sea.
The law against murder is the sixth of the Ten Commandments, but arguably the first after The Fall. The first commandment before The Fall was: “Be fruitful and multiply;” basically, “Give your life to another.” The first commandment after The Fall was: “Don’t take life from another.”
In Genesis 9, God says, “From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man [literally ‘the Adam’].” God talks as if we’ve already taken the life of “the Adam” and called it our own; he talks as if we’ve already taken the blood and now must return the blood to his tree.
When I’m angry, something in me wants to take life, for I perceive that something is trying to take “my life.”
Jesus says that anger with my brother makes me liable to the judgment; calling my brother “stupid” makes me liable to the council, and calling him “fool” makes me liable to the hell of fire—literally, the “Gehenna of fire.”
Is Jesus liable to the Gehenna of fire? He calls the Pharisees “blind fools” in Matthew chapter 23.
Does God get angry? Does God shed blood? Does God take life?
Does God let the sun go down on his anger?
I think we’re all secretly angry—or not so secretly angry—with God.
“He subjected creation to futility; He consigned all to disobedience.”
He left us in a garden with an evil talking snake and a terrifying tree.
And now, isn’t he “taking our life?”
It’s been said that when Vlad Tepes, ruler of Wallachia, returned from the Crusades only to find that his bride had committed suicide, he cursed God, thrust his sword into the tree (the cross behind the altar), then took blood from the river of blood that spilled from the tree and drank it.
He drank it in the wrong way (1 Cor. 11:27); he drank it in arrogance and anger.
His anger became a prison and the presence of Love and Light burned him like fire.
According to Bram Stoker, that’s how Vlad Tepes became Count Dracula and trapped himself in Hell.
It’s important not to do that.
And yet, maybe we’ve all done that—at least those over the age of two or three.
In anger, we’ve called our lives our own when life is God’s own; “The Life” is Jesus, the last Adam.
Now we “bite and devour” each other (Gal. 5:15); we compete at life—like the walking dead who suck the life from everyone they meet.
Our anger becomes a prison and the presence of Love burns like fire.
Jesus then says that if you’re offering your gift in the temple and realize your brother has something against you, leave your gift and go be reconciled to your brother. Agree with your accuser on the way to court. If you don’t, you’ll be thrown into prison until you pay the last penny.
This isn’t what we’d expect to hear: Give all you have as if nothing was yours in the first place—not even your life and certainly not your pennies.
That’s not expected, and this is entirely unexpected: Jesus doesn’t say go reconcile with the one with whom you are angry; he says go reconcile with the one who is angry at you, whether or not you’re angry at them, whether or not their anger is justified—in fact, give them your last penny.
This is what we don’t get about Jesus: He has compassion on angry people who have trapped themselves in hell. So, anyway…
Does God let the sun go down on his anger? No. His anger comes to an end at a tree in a Garden, where the last Adam cries, “Father forgive; it is finished,” and delivers up his Spirit. That happens at the end of the sixth day of Creation; the edge of the eternal seventh.
The wrath of God is finished in a cup of Lamb’s blood that turns into wine; it’s finished when we come to see that what we have taken has always been given—all is fore-given. It’s all grace; the End in me is Faith in Grace by Grace.
So, does Jesus take your life? No. He is your Life.
Does God take your life? Yes. So, he can give it back to you, continuously, freely and forever—like a river.
So, did Jesus get angry? Yes, he got angry at the lies that damn the River of Life.
So, is God angry? He is angry on the sixth day of Creation, but not on the eternal seventh when “it is finished” and “everything is good.”
The height of human anger is taking the life of another.
The height of God’s anger is giving his life to another on a tree in a garden—it’s a bowl of wrath, a cup of blood, the blood of the lamb.
It causes you to lose your psyche (“your life”) and find it in him.
It is the death of death, the second death, eternal life—the Life of Love.
At the end of the movie, Dracula returns to the tree, his knowledge of evil becomes the knowledge of the Good; he receives the Life of Love, dies the second death and begins to live. Of course, that’s just a movie.
However, the body broken and blood shed really is something of a vampire trap (and zombie trap). It turns the walking dead into the Life of Love, the Body of Christ, willing to be broken and willing to bleed for another. It turns the fallen children of the first Adam into the Body of the Last Adam, the temple of the living God.
So, did Jesus leave his gift at the altar to come reconcile with his brothers who had something against him; did he come to settle with his accusers and give them his every last penny?
Yes. And when you finally see it, all your anger will turn into ecstatic praise.
“Surely the wrath of man shall praise you, Lord God.” (Psalm 76:10)