Bible Reading: John 11:33-44

Some years ago I heard someone talk about why David was a man after God’s own heart. I have long forgotten both the occasion and the speaker, but have never forgotten one of his thoughts. He said that one of the reasons why David was a man after God’s own heart was because he understood the emotions of God!

So much of our thinking is selfish, and about how things affect ourselves. For example, we talk so freely about our suffering and human suffering generally, but seem to forget that God also suffers. Spiritual maturity is seeing things from God’s perspective. Sadly we seem to have embraced the Greek perception, common in New Testament times, of a God with no emotions.

I spoke recently with a woman going through a deep trauma, who shared with me that one of the ways of healing was to let out her emotions rather than bottle them up inside. In the English reserved culture that is sometimes considered to be unseemly but it is necessary for true healing to take place. I used to hate seeing my wife crying, until I began to realise that it was a valve for her to release her emotions. There is even a school of faith that says we should never show negative feelings, but God made us as emotional beings. As the perfect human, Jesus was not ashamed to reveal His deep emotions. He admitted when He was physically tired, and at various times Jesus showed anger, compassion, indignation, sorrow, and even frustration. One day, when His disciples were not doing so well, Jesus even said, “How much longer must I put up with you” [Luke 9:41] and yet He never sinned!

In the story of Martha, Mary and Lazarus we find Jesus weeping [John 11:35]. There was none of this silly, “men don’t cry” stuff. Jesus let His emotions show. We cannot be sure why He cried. He knew that Lazarus was going to be raised from the dead, so it is doubtful if He was weeping over Lazarus. Perhaps it was their unbelief that made Him weep, or more probably that He empathized with Martha and Mary in their grief. Jesus cares enough to weep with us in our sorrow. This same passage also speaks of Jesus groaning [v.38], and of “groaning in His spirit and being troubled” [v.33]. The Greek word that is translated as groaning means to feel something deeply and strongly. When Jesus saw Mary and her friends weeping, and again when He came to the tomb of Lazarus, He felt something deeply and strongly. I would suggest it was both profound sorrow, but also anger at the evil of the last enemy, death.


What do you think it means to understand the emotions of God?

Do you find comfort in the fact that Jesus showed His emotions and gives us the right to do the same?

Why do you think that in some societies we have frowned upon the showing emotion, and instead have suffered by bottling things up inside?