The gospels allow us to glimpse times in Jesus’ life when He showed emotion. When we read those passages, we can identify with Him and learn to endure emotional pain and to maximize positive emotions.
Compassion is perhaps the emotion we see most often in the stories of Jesus’s life. For example, we see a leper approaching Jesus, falling on his knees and beginning to be cleansed. The text tells us that Jesus, “filled with compassion,” reached out His hand and touched the man (Mark 1:4-10. As soon as Jesus pronounced the words, “I am willing . . . . Be clean!” the leper was clean.
Jesus was also moved by compassion when the more than four thousand people came to hear Him went three days with little or nothing to eat (see Mark 8). Jesus was aware of their needs and wouldn’t start them on their long journey home without nourishment lest they faint. So miraculously, He provided food for them.
Jesus also expressed love, which is the supreme positive emotion, the central theme of the gospel. He showed His love for people on many occasions. He even set His love as the benchmark toward which His disciples are to aim, “These things I command you, that ye love one another” (John 15:178 KJV). The Lord loved Martha, her sister Mary, and Lazarus, and He found solace in their house at Bethany when He tired. But he didn’t restrict His love only to those who followed Him. The story of Jesus encounter with the rich young ruler teaches us that He loves His children even when they don’t obey Him. Though this young man turned away from Jesus, He “looked at him and loved him (Mark 10:21). What a remarkable lesson to those who disdain and hate people who don’t respond to their requests!
Jesus often demonstrated His affection for people through touching them. He held little children and touched diseased people – including lepers – when He healed them. Jesus disciples tried to prevent their Master from touching a leper; for He who touched a leper became himself unclean. But Jesus being the source of wholeness, wasn’t defiled. And by His act of touching the leper, He sent the message that ill people – even those with the worst disorders deserve love and affection.
In addition to enjoying the pleasure of positive emotions, the Lord Jesus also endured the pain of negative ones. The prophet Isaiah used powerful language to reveal the physical and emotional pain Jesus suffered. He said Jesus was a “man of sorrows,” “familiar with suffering,” “despised,” disdained, “smitten” “Afflicted,” wounded by human transgression, and bruised by human iniquity (see Isiah 53:3-5).
People tend to cry because of their own losses, but Jesus wept for the losses of others. He feels perfect sympathy and empathy for those who suffer. The Gospel tell us that Jesus grieved for those who rejected the appeals He made when He lived among them. Luke tells us that Jesus actually wept over the city of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). He was fully aware that it would eventually be destroyed, and he wept at the suffering of its citizens. This is one of the two times Scripture says that Jesus wept. Meditating on this aspect of Jesus ministry can lessen the emotional pain we feel.
The second instance in which Scripture specifically says that Jesus wept is the story of Lazarus’s death and resurrection. This story gives us additional information about the depth of Jesus’ feeling. John 11:33 says that He ‘groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (KJV), or that He was deeply moved in the spirit and troubles.” This is a translation of the Greek term embrimaomai, which appears again in verse 38, where it is translated “groaning in himself (KJV) and “deeply moved.” This is one of the most graphic pieces of Biblical data telling us of Jesus’ emotions when He felt the consequences of sin. Jesus groan was probably audible. Certainly, it showed the deep psychological turmoil He was feeling.
Here are some of the emotions the Savior experienced.
- Grief of distress (mark 3:5). On one occasion, Jesus heals a man with a withered hand to demonstrate that people could be freed from the yoke of sin even on the Sabbath. Scripture says the Pharisees angered and distressed Jesus. They raised these emotion in Jesus because they would rather leave someone in excruciating pain than do what they could to provide relief on the Sabbath.
- Frustration (Mark 8:12). The Pharisees came to ask Jesus for a sign from heaven, even though they had already seen plenty of signs. This scenario raised a set of emotions that are difficult to label. The King James Version translates Jesus’ reaction this way: “He sighed deeply in His spirit.” We don’t know exactly what Jesus felt; it may have been a mixture of anger, frustration, pity, and sorrow.
- Indignation (Mark 11:15-17). Jesus had come to earth specifically to be sacrificed for the sins of the world, and the animal sacrifices in the temple were meant to point to Him in His role as the Redeemer. Yet, the worshipers and temple personnel were missing this point. Passover involved the sacrifice of thousands of animals, and for many people, it had become a great business with no connection to the Messiah. So, although some don’t understand Jesus’ forceful behavior in clearing the temple, apparently the seriousness of the offense required a clear and strong intervention.
- Anguish (Matthew 26:37, 38). At Gethsemane, the Man Jesus experienced anxiety far greater than any other human being has ever experienced. Evidences of this extreme mental torment are (a) the feeling that He was about to take upon Himself all the guilt of humankind, past, present, and future; (b) His need of support from Peter, James, and John; (c) the fact that He told His disciples about His agony, saying, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”; and (d) His request to the Father that if possible, “this cup” be taken from Him – in other words, that God’s plan be changed, that Jesus be excused from what He was about to experience. As we realize the intense emotional experiences Jesus went through, we can better bear the mental and emotional suffering that comes to us. We may also begin to understand Jesus’ feelings now as well as then: Is He smiling because we’re behaving like His children should, or is He sad or even crying – as He did over Jerusalem – Because we’re not accepting Him fully?
Promises Regarding Adverse Emotions
The concept of emotional intelligence emerged in 1995 which the publication of Daniel Goleman’s book by the name, Emotional Intelligence. He refuted the traditional understanding of the intelligences quotient (IQ) and presented in its place a more global concept of ability – one that is now widely accepted in the field of psychology. Emotional Intelligence (EI) isn’t just the ability to answer standardized items and perform a number of highly precise problems under time constraints. It has to do with the mastering of our emotions so that so that we can achieve goals and build relationships. One of the most desirable traits is the ability to transform negative emotions into positive ones. Another helpful trait is the ability to survive the painful emotional experiences that everyone must face sooner or later.
Christianity has a lot to offer us when we’re dealing with painful emotional experiences. One of the best ways we can gain help is by following the directions Jesus gave to His disciples when He was facing crucifixion and death. The passage that tells this story, John 16:20-24, is full of hope. When we’re troubled, we can gain much comfort, strength, and hope by reading Jesus’ words and realizing the following:
- Life isn’t always fair, but joy is on its way. Many people who reject the Savior seem to be happy and enjoy life, while many of Jesus’ followers weep and mourn. It isn’t fair that caner strikes someone who has always tried to follow the health message and that accidents take away young lives, leaving parents and siblings crushed. But Jesus promises that grief will be turned to joy.
- The change from grief to joy won’t take long. The LORD won’t allow us to suffer more than we can endure – That’s a promise! People under severe emotional distress will leave their suffering behind as quickly as the sight of a mother’s precious newborn baby erases her memories of pain of childbirth.
- The unpleasant past will truly be forgotten. Must of emotional turmoil that harasses us issues from events of the past. That is why psychotherapists from some traditions labor session by session to help their clients deal with those past experiences that are still causing unhappiness. But Christ promises to wipe out that past as if it were no more.
- We all must experience some grief. Jesus pointed out that “now is your time of grief” (verse 22). Sin touches everyone, and suffering and death follow their course in all lives. Seldom can we see the reason for the tribulation we experience. But reason and evil aren’t compatible. It suffices to know that Jesus adds, “But I will see you again and you will rejoice.”
- The Joy Jesus gives lasts forever. When Jesus returns, He will give His children a type of joy that nobody can take away and that will last for eternity – something difficult to understand, for the joy as we understand it is evanescent. But we accept Jesus’ statement by faith.
- We won’t need to ask Jesus for anything else. Jesus affirms that although His disciples ask Him for all sorts of blessings, the time will come when those who love Him will want nothing, since all their needs will be fully met.
- In the meantime, we must pray in Jesus’ name. The Lord doesn’t leave His followers with nothing but a promise. He offers support today as His children face mental struggles and painful emotions. “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (verse 24).
Whenever anger, hatred, jealousy, or anxiety oppress you, when you feel impatient, guilty, inferior, or stressed, accept Jesus’ invitation. He promises the Father’s help – not when He returns at the end of time, bu