How many times have you seen a person make a decision based on an emotion or a feeling? How often were those decisions wrong? Whether it’s a person “falling in love” or the purchase of a lottery ticket due to a “hunch,” we are often seduced by our feelings. How does a person get off the merry-go-round of making emotional decisions? Do what Jesus did. Since Jesus was human and never made a bad decision, it makes sense to follow the pattern of His life.
First, consider the life-focus that Jesus had that served as a backdrop for all of His decisions:
“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself; he can only do what His Father is doing.” John 5:19
“By Myself I can do nothing,…I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me.” John 5:30
“When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own…for I always do what pleases Him.” John 8:28-29
“For I did not speak on my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it…so whatever I say is what the Father has told me to say…” John 12:49-50; (c.f. 7:16;10:25;14:10; 17:7)
Jesus made choices in life based on the desires of Father-God. Therefore, all of the actions of Jesus can be categorized as being “true.” Everything that Jesus did had the highest spiritual and moral quality so as to be completely right (or, “righteous”) for each situation. Yet Jesus, being fully human, experienced the full spectrum of emotions and feelings that we have. So, how did the truth and human feelings converge in perfect harmony in the life of Jesus?
For the sake of discussion let’s try to boil down all of life into four categories that Jesus experienced and that each of us will experience as well. The categories that fit this description are: God, Family, Friends, and a Job (for those older) or School (for those younger). In each of these categories of living Jesus always prioritized pleasing the Father (doing what is right or true) over human feelings. This doesn’t mean Jesus didn’t have strong feelings (see *note). It means that in the life of Jesus truth and feelings worked together like a orchestra under the direction of a conductor. The relationship between truth and feelings is analogous to an orchestra playing from the same sheet music written by the composer. The sheet music represents what is true while our feelings function like a conductor giving unique emphasis and providing a level of coordination between musicians. When the orchestra plays the music before them it will have variations depending on the style of the conductor. The conductor may emphasize a particular section of the music based on his interpretation of the piece or he may emphasis a certain section of his orchestra due to the proficiency of a particular musician or a group musicians. Regardless of what a conductor can influence, the foundation and fundamental performance of the symphony will be judged based on how well the musicians played the music written by the composer.
In short (I hope my analogy was not more confusing than helpful), Jesus experienced all the varied feelings of humanity (represented by the role of the conductor) yet never deviated from the sheet music written for Him by the Father. More importantly, Jesus’ feelings never dictated what was the true and the right to do (e.g. The wilderness temptation, His betrayal, His arrest, the “judicial” proceeding before Caiaphas and Pilate, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, The Crucifixion, etc.). Jesus actually countered His feelings and emotions with what He knew to be the true desire of His Father (“…your will be done”). In this way, the emotions Jesus felt were harnessed by the truth Jesus believed and the Person Jesus trusted. The same model is to be our blueprint for sanctification today.
Therefore, in our lives, we also need to make sure we vent our emotions but never at the expense of what is the right thing to do given what God’s Word says. God’s Word provides us with a reservoir of truth from which we instruct our feelings in all areas of life. We allow truth to wash over us and create a reality that is informed by God’s perspective and was modeled perfectly by Jesus. The following diagram represents this dynamic with the added dimension of the influence of the Devil and the World (I John 2:16).
*In Mark 3:5, Jesus is being set up by the religious leaders of the day and they use a man to try and give vent to their malice of heart: “And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.”
When it says that Jesus “looked around at them with anger” it means Jesus swept around the room looking deeply into the eyes of the religious leaders and was mad! The word used to describe the anger of Jesus is orgē (ὀργη). It is a type anger that is directed toward people who violate the just desires of God (c.f. Matt. 18:34). This type of anger is from God because it affirms His holy standard. The religious leaders do not care for this poor man they simply want to use him to catch and condemn Jesus. If Jesus would not have felt anger at thewretched actions of the religious leaders, he would have ceased to be the Holy One sent from God. We cannot love good and not hate evil. The hating of evil surfaces the emotion of anger against evil. A.T. Robertson quotes Gould as saying; “Anger against wrong as wrong, is a sign of moral health.” Wuest, K. S. Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament.
We serve an amazing God! To provide for our eternal salvation and to give us a representation of Himself in Jesus?! Simply amazing. Look to the Son for understanding for He is God’s chosen object of affection through which the Father’s love is expressed to us who believe.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14