In the beginning of his Gospel account, the apostle John informs us, “the Word [Jesus—the Second Person of the Godhead] was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Paul says that Jesus “was made in the likeness of men” (Phi. 2:7). As a man, Jesus experienced the same emotions and acted upon some of the same motivations as the rest of us. Many verses of Scripture implicitly show that Jesus was a man of emotions, but there are also some which explicitly tell us the emotions Jesus felt when He acted or reacted to certain situations.
“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd” (Mat. 9:36). Surely, that compassion involved more than just Jesus’ sympathy toward the people because of their physical ailments. It is interesting that just two verses earlier Matthew reminds us of the nay saying Pharisees who claimed that Jesus cast out devils through the prince of the devils. With the widespread teaching of both the Pharisees and the Sadducees, Jesus must have felt compassion for the common people, because those two groups were as much or more a detriment than a help.
While we detest error today we, too, can have compassion upon those who have been deceived by those who are recognized as religious leaders, but who are in reality false teachers, and will cause many to be lost. Let us, like Christ, put our compassion into action and teach those who have been deceived by wolves in sheep’s clothing.
In Mark 10, a rich man came to Jesus wanting to know what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. When Jesus reminded him of “the commandments,” the man acknowledged he had kept those from his youth. At that point, Mark records, “Then Jesus beholding him loved him” (10:21). Jesus knew the hearts of men, and He knew the man would be grieved, because he was rich, and the rich will hardly enter the kingdom of heaven, because they love their riches more than God.
Many of the parables Jesus told had something to do with money in one way or another. The pursuit of money can cause much sorrow in this life, and prevent those who love it from entering heaven. What a contrast between the man in the account and Jesus. The man loved money; Jesus loved the people. Consequently, the Lord wasted no occasion to warn the people about the deceitfulness of riches. We must love people enough to warn them about anything they would love more or place ahead of God and following the requirements of the Gospel of Christ.
By contrast, Jesus could also manifest anger. Again, in the Gospel of Mark, we read: “And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other” (3:5). Toward whom was this anger directed? The Pharisees, who were watching and waiting for Him to heal the man, so they would have what they considered to be a real charge against Jesus in regard to the Sabbath.
We have already noted that Jesus had compassion on the people (Mat. 9:36). He had compassion on the man with the withered hand. The Pharisees, who were fitly described by Jesus as hypocrites, rejected Jesus and caused others to reject Him, thus, they deserved the righteous indignation or anger of Jesus.
As hard as it is to understand, it is true that there are false teachers in the religious world today who teach error, know they teach error, and thus deliberately hinder people from coming to obedience to the Gospel of Christ. They are like Elymas in Acts 13 who specifically and deliberately sought to turn Sergius Paulus away from the faith. Such people are surely setting themselves up to receive the wrath of God in the day of judgment.
Jesus knew and experienced grief, as did, and does, any other human being. Jesus showed His grief when He went to Bethany, to the home of Mary and Martha when Lazarus had died. John 11:35 simply says, “Jesus wept.” More especially, Jesus grieved over the spiritual condition of those who had violated God’s law. In Mark 3:5, after we read that Jesus looked around with anger, Mark says Jesus was grieved because of their hard heartedness.
Maybe the most telling incident of the grief of Jesus was when He came into the city of Jerusalem shortly before His death. Matthew records Jesus saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Mat. 23:37). Luke writes about the same occasion, “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it” (Luke 19:41). At the beginning of his Gospel account, Luke describes the mission of John to include turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. Those words describe a spiritual condition that is not what it ought to be. That same spiritual condition among the leaders of the Jews, combined with their envy and jealousy, led to the crucifixion of the Lord.
There is no doubt that it grieves the heart of the Lord today when He sees there are those who trample underfoot the “new Jerusalem,” the church of Christ. Many are as hard hearted as those Jews of old, resisting the law of the King, despising His commandments, and making havoc of the glorious bride of Christ. The Lord’s people are scattered and divided, because many are not content to follow the doctrine of Christ, and go about to establish their own standards. They grieve the Lord as much, if not more, than did the Jews of old.
When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, He deliberately waited two days in the place where He was. He was not going down to Bethany until after Lazarus had died. He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, and He would use that incident to show who He was. John 11:15 says, “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.” Jesus was glad to have the incident, because He could use it as an opportunity to teach. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John make many references to Jesus teaching the people. Not only did Jesus teach the people gladly, twice we are told that the people, specifically the common people, heard Him gladly.
Many members of the Lord’s church do not share Jesus’ joy for teaching those who need to hear the truth. “Let someone else do it, I have already done my share,” or “I am not qualified to teach anyone,” are often excuses for an unwillingness to teach the Gospel. We must always be concerned that there are many lost who need the soul saving message of the Gospel.
Jesus experienced the same feelings and emotions that we do. He was both fully God and fully human. As the Son of God, Jesus revealed the divine message that saves men’s souls. As a human, He left us an example of how to cope with the disappointments in life, how to react under difficult circumstances, and that we are to rejoice when one sinner comes to repentance and obedience to the Gospel. It is helpful for us that the New Testament gives us specific information about the emotions and motivations of Christ. Those references help us in life’s situations.