Jesus took a human body to save our bodies. And he took a human mind to save our minds. Without becoming man in his emotions, he could not have saved our emotions. And without taking a human will, he could not save our will. In the words of Gregory of Nazianzus, “That which he has not assumed he has not healed.” He became man in full so that he might save us in full. Hallelujah! What a marvelous Savior!
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus demonstrates human emotions, but nowhere are His emotions so deeply passionate as in the garden of Gethsemane. Luke recorded in 22:44 that in anguish Jesus prayed more earnestly and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. It’s impossible to imagine the torment He must have felt in the garden!
Jesus discloses what it means to be fully human and made in the image of God. John Calvin stated that “Christ has put on our feelings along with our flesh.” As we seek to be like Him , we tend to look past His emotions however, which without distortion reflect the image of God. If we compare our own emotional lives to His, we clearly recognize our own need of a transformation.
He certainly felt alone – and betrayed. He faced not only a torturous physical death but also spiritual separation from His Father. He wanted the cup removed and prayed to that end. But deeper still, His heart burned for us with compassion. Regardless of the anguish He felt, Jesus brought His emotions in line with the will of His Father in Heaven. “Father if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
What is the application in all this? Oswald Chambers wrote:
“Much of the distress we experience as Christians comes not as the result of sin, but because we are ignorant of the laws of our own nature. For instance, the only test we should use to determine whether or not to allow a particular emotion to run its course in our lives is to examine what the final outcome of that emotion will be. Think it through to its logical conclusion, and if the outcome is something that God would condemn, put a stop to it immediately. But if it is an emotion that has been kindled by the Spirit of God and you don’t allow it to have its way in your life, it will cause a reaction on a lower level than God intended….If the Spirit of god has stirred you, make as many of your decisions as possible irrevocable, and let the consequences be what they will.”
Two sets of priorities were in play as Jesus prayed in the garden that night. These priorities reveal the contrast between imperfect men and our perfect Savior, who chose the will of His Father over the pull of human emotion. How vastly different would our lives be if we regularly responded to our emotions by examining what the final outcome would be and then halting any emotion that stood in the way of God’s will.
May we all learn to see beyond our emotions and make our decisions on the greater vision God has for us.