Gentle and Lowly: Discussion of Chapter 11 — The Emotional Life of Christ

Hi @Interested_In_Book_Studies,

In this chapter, Dane teaches us that Jesus experienced “the full range of human emotions that we do” but without the distortions of sin.

To give us a glimpse of what this looks like, he writes:

What then do we see in the Gospels of the emotional life of Jesus? What does a godly emotional life look like? It is an inner life of perfect balance, proportion, and control, on the one hand; but also of extensive depth of feeling, on the other hand.

Ortlund focuses in on two emotions in particular: compassion and anger.

The Greek word for ‘compassion’, he explains:

is splanchnizo, which is often rendered as “to have compassion.” But the word denotes more than passing pity; it refers to a depth of feeling in which your feelings and longings churn within you. The noun form of this verb means, most literally, one’s guts or intestines.

As for anger, he quotes a theologian named B.B. Warfield to shed some light:

It would be impossible, therefore, for a moral being to stand in the presence of perceived wrong indifferent and unmoved. Precisely what we mean by a moral being is a being perceptive of the difference between right and wrong and reacting appropriately to right and wrong perceived as such. The emotions of indignation and anger belong therefore to the very self-expression of a moral being as such and cannot be lacking to him in the presence of wrong.

When we come to understand that Jesus had both perfect moral righteousness and completely good emotions, we understand that when Jesus encountered suffering and sin, he experienced both compassion and anger.

Jesus felt deep compassion for the victims and a truly righteous anger towards the offenders.

Discussion questions:

  1. Have you ever felt splanchnizo for someone who has suffered harm? How did compassion lead you to a righteous response?

  2. What comfort does it provide to know that Jesus has a fiercer anger against sin than we do?

  3. In what ways does sin dampen or distort our emotional responses?

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I really liked this chapter for its explanation about Christ’s humanity. He did not cease to be human when He ascended into heaven. He is the same man today that He was on earth! I agree that many, myself included until just a few years ago, believe that Jesus took on flesh but then took it off again. But realizing that the emotions He experienced as a completely human being, and that are expressed and recorded in the New Testament, are the same feelings He holds today, is an ‘aha’ moment of discovering just Who Jesus is and what He is like!

Have you ever felt splanchnizo for someone who has suffered harm? How did compassion lead you to a righteous response?

Yes. But not as often as I think I should have after all these years as a believer and follower of Christ. Several years ago, a friend and her deaf son were abandoned by the husband and father. My husband and I were broken hearted for them! We were able to provide housing for them until they could get back on their feet.

What comfort does it provide to know that Jesus has a fiercer anger against sin than we do?
That is very important when I’m feeling overwhelmed and helpless in the face of all the injustices, suffering, hurts and losses people around me have to endure. I know that He feels it much more than I do and that it will all be made right by Jesus.

In what ways does sin dampen or distort our emotional responses?

I think one thing sin does in our emotions is to constantly turn the situation around to the question of how it all affects ME. That often times can evoke a myriad of emotions and responses that are skewed.

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Hi Carson @CarsonWeitnauer I read your post this morning and I am blessed. What a great and relevant questions you share here. I will keep checking in to read responses on this.

I am also blessed by what Lauri @Lauri.lienhard shared. Thank you

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THE EMOTIONAL LIFE OF CHRIST

Q. Have I ever felt splanchnizo for someone who has suffered harm? Yes, I have had many such experiences. My profession was law enforcement for more than 26 years. I dealt with innocent crime victims, accident victims, and those suffering sickness and disease. Using CPR I extended the life of many people. I always prayed for the victim while doing CPR, and God used me to revive many people that were clinically dead during the course of my career.

Q. How did compassion lead me to a righteous response? I am a born-again follower of Jesus Christ. My primary motivation is love; the love of Jesus in me, and my love and appreciation toward him for saving me, forgiving all my sin, and declaring me justified. I believe compassion is a secondary emotion of love—God’s love in me. Compassion moves me to do everything in my power, including prayer, to alleviate those who are suffering. We operate a non-profit prison ministry. It is love that motivates us to bring the message of God’s love, forgiveness, grace, and mercy to the lost and hurting. The benefit has been the transformation of many as they embrace Jesus and receive his mercy and grace. Many have said, “knowing Jesus makes me more free than I ever was before coming to prison.”

Q. What comfort does it provide to know that Jesus has a fiercer anger against sin than I do? Under the Old Testament Law God demanded righteousness from sinful man; God hated sin. Under the New Covenant of Grace God imparts righteousness to sinful man, and he declares that he “remembers our sins and lawless deeds no more.” God not only poured the sin of the whole world into Jesus; he also poured his wrath against man’s sins into Jesus. Jesus took all of our Father’s wrath in his body on the cross. The bible says that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance. Jesus never showed anger toward the common people of his day. He reserved his wrath against the religious leaders most of all. Why? They knew the prophesies of the Old Testament; prophesies that spoke in detail about the life & times of the coming messiah. They rejected the prophesies, and they saw the myriad miracles of Jesus and still rejected him. The religious leaders were the ones that allowed the vendors and money changers to operate in the temple, and it was the religious leaders for whom Jesus showed his wrath. The woman caught in the very act of adultery was shown love and forgiveness—John 8:1-11. God’s wrath was satisfied in the sacrifice of Jesus. It was horrible. So horrible that the Father had to look away. So horrible that Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Then Jesus uttered his last words: “It is finished.” The earth quaked, the temple curtain protecting the most holy place was torn in two, and the demands of the Old Testament Law were fulfilled and satisfied in the sacrificial death & resurrection of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” The New Covenant is all about God’s love and provision for humanity. Our part is to recognize that we are sinners in need of a savior, and turn to him for forgiveness, love, and gift of righteousness. As we surrender our will to him, and receive his love, our love for him will begin to grow. This will result in love for others, and a desire to live God honoring lives every day. Our love for Jesus must be our motivation.

Q. In what ways does sin dampen or distort our emotional response? Without a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, sin distorts one’s entire life. It affects what is believed and how life is lived. What we believe affects how we think, filter events, and ultimately what course of action we will take. But to those who have truly surrendered their life to Christ it is a different story. We are declared to be new creations in Christ, all our sins are forgiven, we are declared righteous, and that we will reign in life through Jesus Christ. Where is anger? Judged at the cross of Christ. I am not a sinner! I am a Saint who occasionally sins, and when I do Jesus is my advocate, continually making intercession on my behalf before our Father. I rest in his love, forgiveness & grace. It was for freedom that Christ has set us free to reign in life.

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I accidentally pinched my wife’s fingers in a car door one time. I will never forget her scream. I felt even worse because I was having trouble getting the door to shut and so I put all of my weight into it and slammed it shut. I do not know how I missed her protests prior to that moment; but after I pushed it shut–all the way–she screamed so loudly that my blood curdled with horror at what I had done. I could only say “I’m sorry” and hug her and check her hand to see what damage had been done. No bones broke, thank God. That was a miracle. I cringe as I write this still vivid memory. I now have a permanent sense of cautious alertness to my surroundings when my wife and child are near me so that I do not hurt them.

I cannot watch movies that depict any form of adult cruelty to children because I cannot help seeing my beloved son in the place of the abused child. I always feel splanchnizo about the imaginary moment. This brings my protective instincts to the surface. I feel enraged whenever I imagine anyone harming him because he is helpless. My wife can defend herself against a grown man; not him. If I feel this way, imagine how Jesus feels? His anger is truly righteous, and I am glad that vengeance is his because I would not be able to handle the passion of the moment on my own.

I sometimes react too strongly when I am close to the people involved. I sometimes react too weakly when I am not very close to the people. Sin is sin, and I need to be sensitive to it no matter who is involved.

Maybe I can illustrate what I mean with something that I have learned from marriage. My wife and I have struggled over the years coming to agreement about how to manage our son’s discipline. I could not understand why she could not simply ignore crocodile tears or had to fuss over even the smallest boo-boo. (I am sure that I was not sensitive enough, but what do I know? I am blind to my own faults…) One day my mom said, “You know, women actually have a physical reaction when they hear crying. That is why milk starts flowing when the baby cries.” Bingo! I finally understood. My wife is physically compassionate. Her guts literally start twisting when she senses that her child is suffering even the slightest pain. It is much easier for me, a man, to let my son suffer a little pain for teaching purposes. (Don’t let anyone actually harm him, though!) Sometimes I can be a little too casual about this. We have come to a better balance over the years of our marriage. She has become more able to temper her compassion so that he can toughen up a little; and I have become more compassionate and loving, I think. (Remember, though, that I am blind to my own faults…)

Jesus is the perfect marriage of compassion and anger. His compassion and anger are natural responses to sin. His compassion leads him to heal his sinful brethren and children of God; his anger leads him to sinless vengeance against sin.

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