That Which Grieves Jesus

Posted on June 24, 2019


By David Ettinger

A Grievous Attitude
Jesus was in the synagogue in Capernaum on the Sabbath. A man with a withered hand captured His attention, and the Lord’s compassion was kindled. He summoned the man to Him with every intention of healing him, but He knew the hearts of those around Him.

To the legalistic and spiritually-stifled leaders of the Jewish community in Israel at that time, to heal on the Sabbath was to do work, something the Mosaic Law – in their narrow and mistaken interpretation – forbade.

But Jesus wanted to get past the Law and penetrate the heart. He wanted the Jewish leadership to “desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6), and He gave them the opportunity to display such an attitude.

As Jesus and the infirmed man stood before the congregation, the Lord asked: “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” (Mark 3:4). The response was tragic: “But they kept silent.”

Jesus had given the congregation – particularly the leadership – the opportunity to display godly compassion, humanity, and kindness, but their blind and misplaced zeal for the Mosaic Law won out.

Jesus’ response to their cold silence? He looked “at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart” (v. 5).

The Cause of Grief
What caused Jesus to grieve? Had the Jewish leadership simply misunderstood the Mosaic Law, He gently would have corrected them. However, this was not the case. Rather, the leadership had put on full display their hard hearts. They cared nothing for the welfare of a fellow Israelite. Instead, they were content with this man living the rest of his life with his deformity rather than see their precious Mosaic Law violated.

And so the Lord’s anger recorded almost 2,000 years ago speaks as loudly to believers today. If there is one thing which grieves Jesus, it is when believers’ hearts are cold – when they exhibit unforgiving, uncaring, and unrepentant hearts toward others.

I have seen this often in my 33-plus years as a believer among Christians I know personally, and those on social media. I see this in the venom shown toward politicians by those professing Christ. I see this in the vitriol slung at unsaved unbelievers for whom we should be praying –many of those living the same lives we led before Christ saved us. I see this hardness of heart directed at believers who dare to reach out to the worst of sinners with the Gospel in love rather than in condemnation.

This Christian hardness of heart is most exhibited against political liberals and the LGBTQ community. Of course Christians should stand on biblical teaching regarding sin, but upon the individual who practices such behavior there should be grace, patience, and prayer.

Hard-Hearted Extremism
What riles me most among the Christian hard-hearted is the extremes to which their insensitivity extends. I get the very real impression that such believers would rather all liberal politicians be assassinated than saved. I sense they would rather see gay nightclubs burn to the ground than its inhabitants repent of their sin and come to faith in Christ.

And worse, I get the feeling that when such sinners die, the hard-hearted rejoice inwardly, taking great satisfaction in their demise. Somehow, they forget the words of 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

There’s not a soul now or in history who deserves to be saved; we ALL warrant both physical and spiritual death (Isaiah 53:6; Romans 6:23). Believers have been given a gift, and when our hearts turn cold, we trample that gift. May we who love the Lord Jesus ask Him for soft, pliable hearts to pray for those who need to know Him, and that we may never grieve the Lord Jesus with hard hearts!