The high priests, the counsel, they finally found a reason they could all get behind for killing Jesus: blasphemy.
The crime of blasphemy comes with it the punishment of death (Leviticus 24:16). The reason: to preserve the holy nature of God’s name. It’s that serious.
But, of course, if these leaders cared about any of that–God or his name–their emotions around blasphemy would look more like sorrow. Hate, perhaps, for the blasphemer. But overall, a sorrow that such a holy one was slandered.
But this wasn’t them.
If they hadn’t already been seething with rage, they’d have been giddy with joy. Verse 66 (Matthew 26): they blindfolded him, spit in his face and slapped him, and then challenged him to predict who it was hitting him.
They weren’t sorry that God’s holy name had (in their view) been defaced.
They couldn’t care less about that.
They’d won. Their adversary—who, with every new follower posed a bigger threat to their own hold of power—had now fallen.
Anger in its own right isn’t always bad. And, sometimes it’s useful. Paul says, “Be angry and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). Jesus himself was sometimes angry.
But when anger moves from a reaction to the driver, things are different. Things get warped. And things go wrong.
It’s easy to spot unhealthy anger in others. It’s harder to see it in ourselves.
What separates healthy people who get angry from those who arrested and (falsely) tried Jesus (also in anger) is that the latter didn’t stop. For them, this kind of anger was a lifestyle.
Paul, continuing on the subject, gives us this advice: “don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” If you let it fester, you give the opportunity to the devil. And, from there, it’s usually, well, downhill.