How to Walk Through My Emotions With Jesus

How to Walk Through My Emotions With Jesus December 7, 2017

How to Walk Through My Emotions With Jesus

How to Walk Through My Emotions With Jesus

John 11:28-44

Most psychologists agree that there are a set of major emotions: fear, grief, anger, and joy. These basic emotions may express themselves in different ways, forms, and varieties. This is the reason why some psychologists will say that there are eight, or sixteen emotions. They are just expressions of the basic emotions. The Bible shows Jesus experiencing four basic emotions during His difficult time dealing with the death of his friend Lazarus.


1. Afraid – Fear

2. Sad – Grief

3. Mad – Anger

4. Glad – Joy

Jesus experiences all four of these emotions in John 11.

Jesus shows fear (John 11:33)

When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled.” (John 11:33, CSB)

To be troubled in this is to be “mentally distressed.” The word comes up two more times in John’s Gospels. In each case, it deals with the fear of death.

““Now my soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour.” (John 12:27, CSB)

When Jesus had said this, he was troubled in his spirit and testified, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”” (John 13:21, CSB)

Scholars debate whether this emotion is reflexive or passive. It is not anger because Jesus just expressed that earlier in the same verse “deeply moved”. It’s not sadness, nor joy because He will express those later. What is Jesus experiencing?

Why did Jesus stay two whole days when He heard about the death of his friend Lazarus? Why didn’t He just raise Lazarus from the grave immediately? Jesus says it is for God’s glory. Yet the disciples bring up the fact that Jesus is not too well liked by the Jews in the area of Bethany. The closer Jesus gets to Jerusalem, the more resistance from the Jews that Jesus encounters. They just tried to stone Him to death. Don’t you think that Jesus had hesitation to go near Jerusalem? I mean He could have stayed in Jerusalem. But He didn’t.

I think it is a valid point to bring up the human fear of Jesus. By this, I mean that Jesus did experience fear. I think He experienced the fear of death. It’s not stated here. But we know that He had a very intense prayer session with God about His upcoming death on the cross. The death of His friend makes Jesus realize that His own upcoming death is drawing near. You may disagree with me. But I think this unspoken hesitation by Jesus reveals a private fear that we only see fully expressed in the Garden of Gethsemane later in the Gospels.

Jesus says that He will raise Lazarus up. He’s confident in His ability to resurrect life. He knows He has the power. But there is a real threat to His own life in doing so. Jesus overcomes that fear by preparing Himself. He spends two days getting ready for this momentous event. Remember, our emotions are involved in everything we do.

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah experiences tremendous victory in his ministry, that is followed immediately by fear in 1 Kings 19. That adrenaline rush affects us deeply. Jesus knew this. He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. That was going to be a tremendous emotional event. It was going to be followed by His own death soon after. So Jesus is preparing Himself here. This is the reason why He wants two days.

Jesus loves His friends. But He stays for two days. “Then after that,” He decides to go to Judea.

Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was sick, he stayed two more days in the place where he was. Then after that, he said to the disciples, “Let’s go to Judea again.”” (John 11:5–7, CSB)

Why the hesitation? I think Jesus is contemplating His upcoming death. You may say that Jesus just waited so that Lazarus was dead for four days to really prove that He is dead. But really, I don’t think this is a theological exercise for Jesus. It isn’t for you. If someone is sick and could die, you would want to be there as soon as possible. But don’t you go through a lot of emotional turmoil while you wait for that person who is sick? I think we need to recognize that Jesus was going through that.

John states that Jesus loves Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. He is deeply moved by the death of Lazarus. This love moves Jesus with emotion. I think Jesus is processing this death and dealing with it.

Jesus overcomes this fear of death with confidence here. Because He can raise someone else to life. That will be nothing compared to the faith that He will need in His own Heavenly Father to raise Himself to life.

I believe that Mary and Martha are also walking through this fear and that they shared that fear with Jesus.

Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” (John 11:21, CSB)

This fear is followed by faith. Martha makes the following claim:

Yet even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” “Your brother will rise again,” Jesus told her. Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”” (John 11:22–24, CSB)

Martha knows that there is going to be a resurrection. Jesus gives her that comfort to ease he fears of death.

Then we move to the next emotion.

Jesus expresses grief (John 11:35)

Jesus wept. (John 11:35, CSB)

The shortest verse is in the Bible is probably the most powerful. In many translations, it says that “Jesus wept.” But this is no form of ordinary crying. Inwardly, Jesus is grieving the loss of his friend Lazarus. Outwardly, He mourning with Martha and Mary.

Psychologists talk about the stages of grief. In these cases, they describe how a person goes through a set of emotions. They will weep, cry, and then at some point, they will get angry. This is what we see Jesus experience next.

Jesus gets angry (John 11:33, John 11:38)

When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled.” (John 11:33, CSB)

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.” (John 11:38, CSB)

In the grieving process, one gets angry because a loved one has died. There is an anger to the unfairness of it all. Two times, Jesus gets angry. In this case, the direction of that anger is the fact that someone has died. So, Jesus is angry, not that He didn’t make it in time. Jesus is angry at the unfairness of the death of His friend.

From anger, we see that Jesus leads Himself to the final emotion, joy.

Jesus shares joy (John 11:41-43)

So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you heard me. I know that you always hear me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so that they may believe you sent me.” After he said this, he shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”” (John 11:41–43, CSB)

When Jesus prays, I believe He is praying out of a sense of joy. Jesus knows that God will answer His prayer. Jesus knows that the end result will be positive. This makes Jesus happy. Yes, He is happy because God will let Him raise His friend from the dead. But Jesus is also happy because He will eventually conquer death. He will ultimately succeed. You can sense that happiness of success in Jesus’ final words after Lazarus appears:

The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unwrap him and let him go.”” (John 11:44, CSB)

Jesus is not scared of Lazarus who just came out of the grave. Jesus is happy. “Get him out of these dead clothes. Lazarus is alive!”

The ultimate goal of our emotions is to reach the emotion of joy. I believe this is the reason why the Bible encourages us to “rejoice” or experience joy in all things. I think one of the reasons is because joy will be our primary emotion in Heaven. Jesus showed us how to go through all of our emotions and reach the ultimate emotion of joy.

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

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