No Chin

It’s known around these parts (aka my home) as the “chin of disapproval.” Over the years, bringing up five daughters, working with kids in youth groups and camp settings, my wife has perfected it. Often, it was all that was required for the girls to know they needed to get back in the line they had just stepped out of. Subtle but effective. I don’t think Jesus had a chin of disapproval, but something I read this morning has me wondering about the look Jesus gave when he was angry.

I’m in Mark 3 and Jesus is in the synagogue . . . the place where you expect to find the people of God. And He is drawn to a man with a withered hand . . . and the eyes of the religious elite are drawn to Him.

And they watched Jesus, to see whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And He looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart . . . ”  (Mark 3:2-5a ESV)

Jesus saw the man’s deformed hand . . . and Jesus knew the religious leaders’ deformed hearts. These men of the Book . . . these leaders of the congregation of the righteous . . . their hearts were hard. Even when Jesus tried to engage them in a logical discussion of the merits of healing a man on the Sabbath, they remained silent. It wasn’t a matter of could they believe . . . the evidence and testimony of Jesus’ power was clear . . . but it was solely a matter of what they wanted to believe. And they were not prepared to believe in anything that in any way compromised their self-serving positions of authority.

And so, records Mark, Jesus looked at them with anger. Peterson, in the Message, imagines that “He looked them in the eye, one after another, angry now, furious at their hard-nosed religion.”

Eye to eye with Jesus in His anger . . . makes the chin of disapproval pale in comparison. To grieve the Son of God . . . to agitate the Author of Life . . . to provoke the wrath of the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Talk about crossing a line!

And, as I reflect on it, I guess I have two reactions. One is to thank God that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Though once an enemy . . . though once opposed to the King . . . though once a possessor of a calloused heart of stone . . . because of the finished work of the cross, and through the abundant grace of God, there is no “chin” for me. No glare . . . no stare . . . no “how could you?!?”

My other thought though, is Paul’s exhortation to the believers at Ephesus to “not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). The word used by Paul indicating not so much an evoking of anger as it is of making one sad or sorrowful . . . of causing the Lord “distress” through actions unbefitting a child of God. It’s not that I fear “the chin” . . . it’s that I don’t want to do anything that would cause my Savior to grieve.

And yet, I know my frame . . . and He does too. I know my weakness . . . and He says His grace is sufficient. I know my failures . . . and He says that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9).

My desire is to please Him . . . my confidence is in the finished work of the cross . . .

No chin for those who are in Christ Jesus. By His grace . . . for His glory . . .

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