Did Jesus Have Feelings?

JesusWept

IF HOLLYWOOD TEACHES us anything–which is very, very little, it teaches us not to trust how it portrays any real-life character. Writers, directors, and producers all have their personal say in how an individual is brought to the big screen. “Based on a true story” is the motion picture industries’ way of saying:  “We are using copious amounts of creative license and editorial bias to show you what we’d like you to see about this particular person in history.”

I remember reading years ago about the 13th century Scottish hero, William Wallace, often referred to today as “Brave Heart.” Hollywood gave him a rather extensive facelift. Truth be known, the William Wallace of the silver screen and the William Wallace of history are two radically different entities. They ain’t even second cousins.

But nowhere is Hollywood’s disposition towards real people more evident than in the life of our Lord. Cinema and pop culture has morphed Him into a rather stolid, dull, and largely unemotional being. He’s a disconnected, Vulcan-like therapist for broken and hurting folks. What’s worse is that He is depicted as moving in and among the ancient masses with the energy and enthusiasm, forgive me, of a baked potato. You see, Hollywood wants you to think of the Jesus of history as obtuse at best and dull and out of touch at worst. In other words, He is uncaring and irrelevant.

But friends, the Bible shows the Messiah to be quite different from how He is rendered in modern media.

The Jesus of Scripture is a man of intense passion and feeling:

  • Watch Him overthrow the tables of the moneychangers in the temple in Matthew 21. Did Jesus care about sin, hypocrisy and greed?  Was He ever aroused by transgression and iniquity?

 

  • Watch Him shed tears at Lazarus’ tomb in John 11.  Did Jesus feel deeply at funerals or was he an emotional vegetable?  Did He weep or was he devoid of affection?

 

  • Watch Him interact with the crowds of sick folks in Matthew 14.  The Holy Spirit said Jesus was “moved with compassion.”  Does that sound like He didn’t care and that he was unaffected by pain?

 

  • Listen to Him lift his broken voice on Gethsemane’s hill as He pours out his heart to God in Hebrews 5.  The NKJV describes his laments as “vehement” (NKJV), while the ESV describes them as “loud cries and tears.”  Does this sound like a man who is incapable of sensitivity?

Our Lord was no half-human android. He had heart, He felt strongly, and He was passionate!

Give Hollywood its credit. It knows how to appeal to the carnal and it knows how to make (and lose) LOTS of money.

It just doesn’t know how to deal with the real Son of Man.

“God loves you and I love you and that’s the way it’s gonna be!”  Mike

Why Did Jesus Heal on the Sabbath?

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“Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered” (Luke 6:6).

WHILE INSPIRATION LIMITS many of the details of this occasion, we do know the identity of at least some of those who were present in the assembly.

The scribes and Pharisees were present (Luke 6:7). They had set themselves up as the authorized police of Jesus’ behavior and doctrine.

A man with a withered hand was also present./1 Was this poor fellow essentially planted by the lawyers in order to trap Jesus? There’s no definitive answer to that question, but the evidence forces us to raise a curious eyebrow.

In any case, the religious leaders were obviously anticipating Jesus’ arrival. Their question, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” was not due to any desire to witness a miracle, nor to express compassion for the unfortunate man with the shriveled hand. They only wished to ensnare the Lord in His actions and discredit Him before his peers.

Jesus could see through the façade of his antagonists. They had gotten so caught up in the day of the calendar that they overlooked the identity of the Messiah and the fact that the Son of God literally stood in their midst.

He had performed miracles on other occasions, but all they could see was a breach of their man-made traditions.

I find it fascinating that Jesus knew their ungodly motives and went to the synagogue anyway. And he could have healed the man with the withered hand on any other day of the week, but he chose to express mercy on the Sabbath–this Sabbath.

Milquetoast peacekeepers would have no doubt warned Jesus to quietly avoid the controversy all together.

“Lord, don’t upset these guys–just leave them alone and wait to heal this guy tomorrow. You’ve got enough grief and stress without another fuss with these troublemakers.”

But Jesus didn’t back down. He was confrontational and in their faces. He knew the only way to melt their frozen hearts was to expose their duplicity for all to see.

He hated hypocrisy more than all other sins and therefore chose to “work,” at least as they interpreted it, in order to reveal their true spirit and motives.

He told the man to step forward so that all could watch the drama unfold. He then asked the scribes and Pharisees, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”

As he had done on other occasions, Jesus turned their own question against them–and then Jesus healed. The handicap was removed, the man was whole, and perhaps most telling of all, his opponents were silenced, yet again.

Yes, the Lord knew the scribes and Pharisees were waiting. He knew the twisted question they were going to ask. He knew they would hate Him–(and ultimately kill Hm) for what he would say and do (cf. John 5:18-47).

However, Jesus went in the synagogue, laid bare their stubborn, blinded hearts, turned their own question against them, and healed the man with the withered hand anyway.

Jesus healed on the Sabbath because rabbinic tradition had turned the God-ordained day of rest into a day of incredible burden. Jesus healed on the Sabbath because those who demanded certain behaviors of others failed to carry out and live them themselves.

Jesus healed on the Sabbath because he despised pharisaical insincerity at its very core.

Just a thought, brethren. When error is deliberately taught and practiced by those who claim to know Jesus today, how should we respond?

  • Should we wait and heal on another day?
  • Should we wait until the Sabbath is past?

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1/ The Greek word for “withered” is xeros and means dry. This appendage, for whatever reason, had been deprived of the normal moisture afforded the rest of his body.

What About Nicodemus?

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I HAVE A not-so-private confession.

I don’t know that I’ve ever said a good thing about the Pharisees.

Pharisees have always been easy prey. From my rather one-sided perspective, they–in totality–were the religious bottom-feeders of ancient Jewish sects. They were constantly peering over Jesus’ shoulder trying to find fault with His teachings and practices.

They claimed Jesus ate with the wrong people (Matthew 9:11); that His power could be attributed to demonic forces (9:34;12:24); that His disciples, and He by extension, were guilty of breaking sacred tradition (15:2); that He endorsed withholding income taxes from the Roman IRS (Luke 23:2); that He violated the Sabbath (John 9:16); and that, perhaps worst of all, He was not from God.

Jesus, the most loving man who ever walked the earth, called them “hypocrites,” “blind guides,” “white-washed tombs,” and “serpents” (cf. Matthew 23).

If He could denounce them with such bold and unpalatable metaphors, then surely I could do the same in my sermons and Bible classes. And so I admit it, Pharisees have always been my first choice as go-to verbal punching bags.

The problem is–not all Pharisee’s were the wicked men I’ve always portrayed them to be.

Despite my enthusiastic willingness to stereotype all Pharisees as religious charlatans, not all of them could or should be so characterized.

Take the curious example of Nicodemus:

  • John 3 records a very respectful home Bible study between our Lord and a notable Pharisee (John 3:1ff). There was no acidic rancor, no deceptive or misleading questions, and no obvious condescension–in fact, quite the opposite. Nicodemus began his lesson with the Lord in a very respectful, honorable fashion. He said, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). Don’t miss that–Nicodemus admitted, at the very least, that Jesus’ power came from above. Granted, he didn’t fully recognize the Lord’s identity, nor did he initially catch on to what was being said about the new birth, but his questions (John 3:4, 9) didn’t bear the obvious marks of Pharisaic hostility.
  • John 7 chronicles how the Pharisees at large sought to arrest Jesus because of His Messianic claims and the fact that many had believed on him (John 7:10ff). On this occasion, Nicodemus not only intervened on the Lord’s behalf, but he pointed out that his peers were about to break the very Law which they claimed to uphold. John writes in John 7:50, “Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, ‘Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?’” While Nicodemus may have displayed a certain caution on this occasion, the fact remains that he did defend Jesus.
  • John 19 recounts how two men were involved in preparing Jesus’ dead body for burial (John 19:38ff; cf. Acts 9:37Mark 15:46John 20:7). One of those men, not surprisingly, was Nicodemus. Unlike the twelve who ran for their lives when the events of the crucifixion began to unfold (Matthew 26:56), this once seemingly discreet Pharisee came right out into the open and took part in this benevolent endeavor.

It’s a safe interpretation to say that many, perhaps even the majority of Pharisees, were closed-minded about the Lord. But it is not accurate to say that all Pharisees were so inclined. Nicodemus was a precious exception.