John Piper

Out of the Jewish leadership of Jesus’ day had risen teachers of the law who did not know what the law meant. Jesus found himself saying things like ‘Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?’ (John 3:10 ESV). Some of the teachers had lost all sense of biblical proportion, ‘straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!’ (Matthew 23:24 ESV). And as they lost their bearings, they came under Jesus’ most serious charge: ‘You have made void the word of God’ (Matthew 15:6 ESV).

Emotionally, Jesus’ response was a sinless combination of grief and anger. ‘He looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart’ (Mark 3:5 ESV). Why both anger and grief?

The anger was because people were being hurt – eternally. These teachers were supposed to know what the word of God meant, but instead Jesus said they were ‘like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing’ it (Luke 11:44 ESV). This made Jesus angry. Their job was to teach what God had said. Instead, they were blind guides and were leading others with them into the ditch. Jesus loved people. Therefore, he was angry with professional teachers who imperilled people with biblical blunders.

But Jesus was not only angry; he was ‘grieved at their hardness of heart’. These were his kinsmen. These were the leaders of his people. These were the representatives of the Jerusalem he loved and wept over. ‘Would that you . . . had known . . . the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes’ (Luke 19:42). The condition of their heart and the blindness of their eyes were a grief to Jesus.

Taken from "Foreword to Pierced for Our Transgressions" by John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: (used by permission).