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The gospel writers paint their portraits of Jesus using a kaleidoscope of brilliant "emotional" colors. Jesus felt compassion; he was angry, indignant, and consumed with zeal; he was troubled, greatly distressed, very sorrowful, depressed, deeply moved, and grieved; he sighed; he wept and sobbed; he groaned; he was in agony; he was surprised and amazed; he rejoiced very greatly and was full of joy; he greatly desired, and he loved.

In our quest to be like Jesus we often overlook his emotions. Jesus reveals what it means to be fully human and made in the image of God. His emotions reflect the image of God without any deficiency or distortion. When we compare our own emotional lives to his, we become aware of our need for a transformation of our emotions so that we can be fully human, as he is.

Paul tells the Corinthians that as Christians gaze upon the glory of the Lord, "with unveiled faces," we "are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory" (2 Cor. 3:18, NIV). The apostle is suggesting that looking intently on the Lord will bring about a metamorphosis into Christ's image by the Spirit. Paul illustrated this kind of transformation in his own life when he told the Philippian Christians, "I long for you with the compassion of Christ" (Phil. 1:8). Paul embodied the emotions of Jesus.

Many theologians throughout history have argued strongly that God is not moved by emotions. This doctrine of the impassibility of God, developed by early Christian apologists such as Justin Martyr, sought to distinguish the God of the Bible from pagan gods whose passions led them into all kinds of scandalous behavior. It is not surprising that Christians responded to the myths of Zeus's rapes and arbitrary vengeance with an absolute ...

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The Emotions of Jesus
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In the Magazine

February 3, 1997

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