by B.B. Warfield
It belongs to the truth of our Lord’s humanity, that he was subject to all sinless human emotions.l In the accounts which the Evangelists give us of the crowded activities which filled the few years of his ministry, the play of a great variety of emotions is depicted. It has nevertheless not proved easy to form a universally acceptable conception of our Lord’s emotional life. Not only has the mystery of the Incarnation entered in as a disturbing factor, the effect of the divine nature on the movements of the human soul brought into personal union with it has been variously estimated. Differences have arisen also as to how far there may be attributed to a perfect human nature movements known to us only as passions of sinful beings.
Two opposite tendencies early showed themselves in the Church. One, derived ultimately from the ethical ideal of the Stoa, which conceived moral perfection under the form of apatheia, naturally wished to attribute this ideal dira0eaa to Jesus, as the perfect man. The other, under the influence of the conviction that, in order to deliver men from their weaknesses, the Redeemer must assume and sanctify in his own person all human patha, as naturally was eager to attribute to him in its fulness every human pathos. Though in far less clearly defined forms, and with a complete shifting of their bases, both tendencies are still operative in men’s thought of Jesus. There is a tendency in the interest of the dignity of his person to minimize, and there is a tendency in the interest of the completeness of his humanity to magnify, his affectional movements. The one tendency may run some risk of giving us a somewhat cold and remote Jesus, whom we can scarcely believe to be able to sympathize with us in all our infirmities. The other may possibly be in danger of offering us a Jesus so crassly human as scarcely to command our highest reverence. Between the two, the figure of Jesus is liable to take on a certain vagueness of outline, and come to lack definiteness in our thought. It may not be without its uses, therefore, to seek a starting point for our conception of his emotional life in the comparatively few2 affectional movements which are directly assigned to him in the Gospel narratives. Proceeding outward from these, we may be able to form a more distinctly conceived and firmly grounded idea of his emotional life in general.
It cannot be assumed beforehand, indeed, that all the emotions attributed to Jesus in the Evangelical narratives are intended to be ascribed distinctively to his human soul.3 Such is no doubt the common view. And it is not an unnatural view to take as we currently read narratives, which, whatever else they contain, certainly present some dramatization of the human experiences of our Lord.4 No doubt the naturalness of this view is its sufficient general justification. Only, it will be well to bear in mind that Jesus was definitely conceived by the Evangelists as a two-natured person, and that they made no difficulties with his duplex consciousness. In almost the same breath they represent him as declaring that he knows the Father through and through and, of course, also all that is in man, and the world which is the theatre of his activities, and that he is ignorant of the time of the occurrence of a simple earthly event which concerns his own work very closely; that he is meek and lowly in heart and yet at the same time the Lord of men by their relations to whom their destinies are determined, — “no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” In the case of a Being whose subjective life is depicted as focusing in two centers of consciousness, we may properly maintain some reserve in ascribing distinctively to one or the other of them mental activities which, so far as their nature is concerned, might properly belong to either. The embarrassment in studying the emotional life of Jesus arising from this cause, however, is more theoretical than practical. Some of the emotions attributed to him in the Evangelical narrative are, in one way or another, expressly assigned to his human soul. Some of them by their very nature assign themselves to his human soul. With reference to the remainder, just because they might equally well be assigned to the one nature or the other, it may be taken for granted that they belong to the human soul, if not exclusively, yet along with the divine Spirit; and they may therefore very properly be used to fill out the picture. We may thus, without serious danger of confusion, go simply to the Evangelical narrative, and, passing in review the definite ascriptions of specific emotions to Jesus in its records, found on them a conception of his emotional life which may serve as a starting-point for a study of this aspect of our Lord’s human manifestation.
The establishment of this starting-point is the single task of this essay. No attempt will be made in it to round out our view of our Lord’s emotional life. It will content itself with an attempt to ascertain the exact emotions which are expressly assigned to him in the Evangelical narrative, and will leave their mere collocation to convey its own lesson. We deceive ourselves, however, if their mere collocation does not suffice solidly to ground certain very clear convictions as to our Lord’s humanity, and to determine the lines on which our conception of the quality of his human nature must be filled out.
The emotion which we should naturally expect to find most frequently attributed to that Jesus whose whole life was a mission of mercy, and whose ministry was so marked by deeds of beneficence that it was summed up in the memory of his followers as a going through the land “doing good” (Acts xi. 38 ), is no doubt “compassion.” In point of fact, this is the emotion which is most frequently attributed to him.5 The term employed to express it6 was unknown to the Greek classics, and was perhaps a coinage of the Jewish dispersion.7 It first appears in common use in this sense, indeed, in the Synoptic Gospels,8 where it takes the place of the most inward classical word of this connotation.9 The Divine mercy has been defined as that essential perfection in God “whereby he pities and relieves the miseries of his creatures”: it includes, that is to say, the two parts of an internal movement of pity and an external act of beneficence. It is the internal movement of pity which is emphasized when our Lord is said to be “moved with compassion” as the term is sometimes excellently rendered in the English versions.10 In the appeals made to his mercy, a more external word11 is used; but it is this more internal word that is employed to express our Lord’s response to these appeals: the petitioners besought him to take pity on them; his heart responded with a profound feeling of pity for them. His compassion fulfilled itself in the outward act;12 but what is emphasized by the term employed to express our Lord’s response is, in accordance with its very derivation, the profound internal movement of his emotional nature.
This emotional movement was aroused in our Lord as well by the sight of individual distress (Mk. i. 41; Mt. xx. 34; Lk. vii. 13) as by the spectacle of man’s universal misery (Mk. vi. 34, viii. 2; Mt. ix. 36, xiv. 14, xv. 32). The appeal of two blind men that their eyes might be opened (Mt. xx. 34), the appeal of a leper for cleansing (Mk. i. 41), — though there may have been circumstances in his case which called out Jesus’ reprobation (verse 43), — set our Lord’s heart throbbing with pity, as did also the mere sight of a bereaved widow, wailing by the bier of her only son as they bore him forth to burial, though no appeal was made for relief (Lk. vii. 13).13 The ready spontaneity of Jesus’ pity is even more plainly shown when he intervenes by a great miracle to relieve temporary pangs of hunger: “I have compassion on” — or better, “I feel pity for” — “the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and if I send them away fasting to their home, they will faint in the way; and some of them are come from far” (Mk. viii. 2; Mt. xv. 32), — the only occasion on which Jesus is recorded as testifying to his own feeling of pity. It was not merely the physical ills of life, however, — want and disease and death, — which called out our Lord’s compassion. These ills were rather looked upon by him as themselves rooted in spiritual destitution. And it was this spiritual destitution which most deeply moved his pity. The cause and the effects are indeed very closely linked together in the narrative, and it is not always easy to separate them. Thus we read in Mark vi. 34: “And he came forth and saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them” — better, “he felt pity for them,” — “because they were as sheep not having a shepherd, and he taught them many things.” But in the parallel passage in Mt. xiv. 14, we read: “And he came forth and saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on” (“felt pity for”) “them, and he healed their sick.” We must put the two passages together to get a complete account: their fatal ignorance of spiritual things, their evil case under the dominion of Satan in all the effects of his terrible tyranny, are alike the object of our Lord’s compassion.14 In another passage (Mt. ix. 36) the emphasis is thrown very distinctly on the spiritual destitution of the people as the cause of his compassionate regard: “But when he saw the multitude, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd.” This description of the spiritual destitution of the people is cast in very strong language. They are compared to sheep which have been worn out and torn by running hither and thither through the thorns with none to direct them, and have now fallen helpless and hopeless to the ground.15 The sight of their desperate plight awakens our Lord’s pity and moves him to provide the remedy.
No other term is employed by the New Testament writers directly to express our Lord’s compassion.16 But we read elsewhere of its manifestation in tears and sighs.17 The tears which wet his cheeks18 when, looking upon the uncontrolled grief of Mary and her companions, he advanced, with heart swelling with indignation at the outrage of death, to the conquest of the destroyer (Jno. xi. 35), were distinctly tears of sympathy. Even more clearly, his own unrestrained wailing over Jerusalem and its stubborn unbelief was the expression of the most poignant pity: “O that thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace” (Lk. xix. 41)!19 The sight of suffering drew tears from his eyes; obstinate unbelief convulsed him with uncontrollable grief. Similarly when a man afflicted with dumbness and deafness was brought to him for healing we are only told that he “sighed”20 (Mk. vii. 34); but when the malignant unbelief of the Pharisees was brought home to him he “sighed from the bottom of his heart” (Mk. viii. 12).21 “Obstinate sin,” comments Swete appropriately, “drew from Christ a deeper sigh than the sight of suffering (Lk. vii. 34 and cf. Jno. xiii. 20), a sigh in which anger and sorrow both had a part (iii. 4 note).”22 We may, at any rate, place the loud wailing over the stubborn unbelief of Jerusalem and the deep sighing over the Pharisees’ determined opposition side by side as exhibitions of the profound pain given to our Lord’s sympathetic heart, by those whose persistent rejection of him required at his hands his sternest reprobation. He “sighed from the bottom of his heart” when he declared, “There shall no sign be given this generation”; he wailed aloud when he announced, “The days shall come upon thee when thine enemies shall dash thee to the ground.” It hurt Jesus to hand over even hardened sinners to their doom.
It hurt Jesus, — because Jesus’ prime characteristic was love, and love is the foundation of compassion. How close to one another the two emotions of love and compassion lie, may be taught us by the only instance in which the emotion of love is attributed to Jesus in the Synoptics (Mk. x. 21). Here we are told that Jesus, looking upon the rich young ruler, “loved”23 him, and said to him, “One thing thou lackest.” It is not the “love of complacency” which is intended, but the “love of benevolence”; that is to say, it is the love, not so much that finds good, as that intends good, — though we may no doubt allow that “love of compassion is never” — let us rather say, “seldom” — “absolutely separated from love of approbation”;24 that is to say, there is ordinarily some good to be found already in those upon whom we fix our benevolent regard. The heart of our Saviour turned yearningly to the rich young man and longed to do him good; and this is an emotion, we say, which, especially in the circumstances depicted, is not far from simple compassion.25
It is characteristic of John’s Gospel that it goes with simple directness always to the bottom of things. Love lies at the bottom of compassion. And love is attributed to Jesus only once in the Synoptics, but compassion often; while with John the contrary is true — compassion is attributed to Jesus not even once, but love often. This love is commonly the love of compassion, or, rather, let us broaden it now and say, the love of benevolence; but sometimes it is the love of sheer delight in its object. Love to God is, of course, the love of pure complacency. We are surprised to note that Jesus’ love to God is only once explicitly mentioned (Jno. xiv. 31); but in this single mention it is set before us as the motive of his entire saving work and particularly of his offering of himself up. The time of his offering is at hand, and Jesus explains: “I will no more speak much with you, for the prince of this world cometh; and he hath nothing in me; but [I yield myself to him] that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.”26 The motive of Jesus’ earthly life and death is more commonly presented as love for sinful men; here it is presented as loving obedience to God. He had come to do the will of the Father; and because he loved the Father, his will he will do, up to the bitter end. He declares his purpose to be, under the impulse of love, “obedience up to death, yea, the death of the cross.”
The love for man which moved Jesus to come to his succor in his sin and misery was, of course, the love of benevolence. It finds its culminating expression in the great words of Jno. xv. 13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends: ye are my friends, if ye do the things which I command you”27 — rather an illuminating definition of ‘friends,’ by the way, especially when it is followed by: “Ye did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you that ye should go and bear fruit.” “Friends,” it is clear, in this definition, are rather those who are loved than those who love. This culminating expression of his love for his own, by which he was sustained in his great mission of humiliation for them, is supported, however, by repeated declarations of it in the immediate and wider context. In the immediately preceding verses, for example, it is urged as the motive and norm of the love — spring of obedience — which he seeks from his disciples: “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; and so shall ye be my disciples. Even as my Father hath loved me, I also have loved you: abide ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be fulfilled. This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you” (Jno. xv. 8-12). As his love to the Father was the source of his obedience to the Father, and the living spring of his faithfulness to the work which had been committed to him, so he declares that the love of his followers to him, imitating and reproducing his love to them, is to be the source of their obedience to him, and through that, of all the good that can come to human beings, including, as the highest reach of social perfection, their love for one another. Self-sacrificing love is thus made the essence of the Christian life, and is referred for its incentive to the self-sacrificing love of Christ himself: Christ’s followers are to “have the same mind in them which was also in Christ Jesus.” The possessive pronouns throughout this passage — “abide in my love,” “in my love,” “in his (the Father’s) love” — are all subjective:28 so that throughout the whole, it is the love which Christ bears his people which is kept in prominent view as the impulse and standard of the love he asks from his people. This love had already been adverted to more than once in the wider context (xiii. 1, 34, xiv. 21) in the same spirit in which it is here spoken of. Its greatness is celebrated: he not only “loved his own which were in the world,” but “loved them utterly” (xiii. 1).29 It is presented as the model for the imitation of those who would live a Christian life on earth: “even as I have loved you” (xiii. 34). It is propounded as the Christian’s greatest reward: “and I will love him and manifest myself unto him” (xiv. 21).
The emotion of love as attributed to Jesus in the narrative of John is not confined, however, to these great movements — his love to his Father which impelled him to fulfil all his Father’s will in the great work of redemption and his love for those whom, in fulfilment of his Father’s will, he had chosen to be the recipients of his saving mercy, laying down his life for them. There are attributed to him also those common movements of affection which bind man to man in the ties of friendship. We hear of particular individuals whom “Jesus loved,” the meaning obviously being that his heart knit itself to theirs in a simple human fondness. The term employed to express this friendship is prevailingly that high term which designates a love that is grounded in admiration and fulfils itself in esteem;30 but the term which carries with it only the notion of personal inclination and delight is not shunned.31 We are given to understand that there was a particular one of our Lord’s most intimate circle of disciples on whom he especially poured out his personal affection. This disciple came to be known, as, by the way of eminence, “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” though there are subtle suggestions that the phrase must not be taken in too exclusive a sense.32 Both terms, the more elevated and the more intimate, are employed to express Jesus’ love for him.33 The love of Jesus for the household at Bethany and especially for Lazarus, is also expressly intimated to us, and it also by both terms, — though the more intimate one is tactfully confined to his affection for Lazarus himself. The message which the sisters sent Jesus is couched in the language of the warmest personal attachment: “Behold, he whom thou lovest is sick”; and the sight of Jesus’ tears calls from the witnessing Jews an exclamation which recognizes in him the tenderest personal feeling: “Behold, how he loved him!” But when the Evangelist widens Jesus’ affection to embrace the sisters also, he instinctively lifts the term employed to the more deferential expression of friendship: “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” Jesus’ affection for Mary and Martha, while deep and close, had nothing in it of an amatory nature, and the change in the term avoids all possibility of such a misconception.34 Meanwhile, we perceive our Lord the subject of those natural movements of affection which bind the members of society together in bonds of close fellowship. He was as far as possible from insensibility to the pleasures of social intercourse (cf. Mt. xi. 19) and the charms of personal attractiveness. He had his mission to perform, and he chose his servants with a view to the performance of his mission. The relations of the flesh gave way in his heart to the relations of the spirit: “whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mt. xii. 50) and it is “those who do the things which he commands them” whom he calls his “friends” (Jno. xv. 14). But he had also the companions of his human heart: those to whom his affections turned in a purely human attachment. His heart was open and readily responded to the delights of human association, and bound itself to others in a happy fellowship.35
The moral sense is not a mere faculty of discrimination between the qualities which we call right and wrong, which exhausts itself in their perception as different. The judgments it passes are not merely intellectual, but what we call moral judgments; that is to say, they involve approval and disapproval according to the qualities perceived. 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. We should know, accordingly, without instruction that Jesus, living in the conditions of this earthly life under the curse of sin, could not fail to be the subject of the whole series of angry emotions, and we are not surprised that even in the brief and broken narratives of his life-experiences which have been given to us, there have been preserved records of the manifestation in word and act of not a few of them. It is. interesting to note in passing that it is especially in the Gospel of Mark, which rapid and objective as it is in its narrative, is the channel through which has been preserved to us a large part of the most intimate of the details concerning our Lord’s demeanor and traits which have come down to us, that we find these records.
It is Mark, for instance, who tells us explicitly (iii. 5) that the insensibility of the Jews to human suffering exhibited in a tendency to put ritual integrity above humanity, filled Jesus with indignant anger. A man whose hand had withered, met with in the synagogue one Sabbath, afforded a sort of test-case. The Jews treated it as such and “watched Jesus whether he would heal him on the Sabbath day, that they might accuse him.” Jesus accepted the challenge. Commanding the man to “rise in the midst” of the assemblage, he put to them the searching question, generalizing the whole case: “Is it lawful to do good or to do evil on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill?” “But,” says the narrative, “they kept silent.” Then Jesus’ anger rose: “he looked around at them with anger, being grieved at the hardness of their heart.” What is meant is, not that his anger was modified by grief, his reprobation of the hardness of their hearts was mingled with a sort of sympathy for men sunk in such a miserable condition. What is meant is simply that the spectacle of their hardness of heart produced in him the deepest dissatisfaction, which passed into angry resentment.36 Thus the fundamental psychology of anger is curiously illustrated by this account; for anger always has pain at its root, and is a reaction of the soul against what gives it discomfort.37 The hardness of the Jews’ heart, vividly realized, hurt Jesus; and his anger rose in repulsion of the cause of his pain. There are thus two movements of feeling brought before us here. There is the pain which the gross manifestation of the hardness of heart of the Jews inflicted on Jesus. And there is the strong reaction of indignation which sprang out of this pain. The term by which the former feeling is expressed has at its basis the simple idea of pain, and is used in the broadest way of every kind of pain, whether physical or mental, emphasizing, however, the sensation itself, rather than its expression.38 It is employed here appropriately, in a form which throws an emphasis on the inwardness of the feeling, of the discomfort of heart produced in Jesus by the sight of man’s inhumanity to man. The expression of this discomfort was in the angry look which he swept over the unsympathetic assemblage. It is not intimated that the pain was abiding, the anger evanescent. The glance in which the anger was manifested is represented as fleeting in contrast with the pain of which the anger was the expression. But the term used for this anger is just the term for abiding resentment, set on vengeance.39 Precisely what is ascribed to Jesus, then, in this passage is that indignation at wrong, perceived as such, wishing and intending punishment to the wrong-doer, which forms the core of what we can vindicatory justice.40 This is a necessary reaction of every moral being against perceived wrong.
On another occasion Mark (x. 14) pictures Jesus to us as moved by a much lighter form of the emotion of anger. His disciples, — doubtless with a view to protecting him from needless drafts upon his time and strength, — interfered with certain parents, who were bringing to him their babies (Lk. xviii. 15) “that he should touch them.” Jesus saw their action, and, we are told, “was moved with indignation.” The term employed here41 expresses, originally, physical (such, for example, as is felt by a teething child), and then mental (Mt. xx. 24, xxi. 15, xxvi. 8; Mk. x. 41, xiv. 4; Lk. xiii. 14, cf. II Cor. vii. 11) “irritation.” Jesus was “irritated,” or perhaps we may better render, was “annoyed,” “vexed,” at his disciples. And (so the term also suggests) he showed his annoyance, — whether by gesture or tone or the mere shortness of his speech: “Let the children come to me; forbid them not!”42 Thus we see Jesus as he reacts with anger at the spectacle of inhumanity, so reacting with irritation at the spectacle of blundering misunderstanding, however well-meant.
Yet another phase of angry emotion is ascribed to Jesus by Mark, but in this case not by Mark alone. Mark (xiv. 3) tells us that on healing a leper, Matthew (ix. 30) that on healing two blind men, Jesus “straitly,” “strictly,” “sternly,” “charged” them, — as our English versions struggle with the term, in an attempt to make it describe merely the tone and manner of his injunction to the beneficiaries of his healing power, not to tell of the cures wrought upon them. This term,43 however, does not seem to mean, in its ordinary usage, to “charge,” to “enjoin,” however straitly or strictly, but simply to “be angry at,” or, since it commonly implies that the anger is great, to “be enraged with,” or, perhaps better still, since it usually intimates that the anger is expressed by audible signs, to “rage against.” If we are to take it in its customary sense, therefore, what we are really told in these passages is that Jesus, “when he had raged against the leper, sent him away;” that “he raged against the blind men, saying, ‘See that no one know it!” If this rage is to be supposed (with our English versions) to have expressed itself only in the words recorded, the meaning would not be far removed from that of the English word “bluster” in its somewhat rare transitive use, as, for example, when an old author writes: “He meant to bluster all princes into perfect obedience.”44 The implication of boisterousness, and indeed of empty noise, which attends the English word, however, is quite lacking from the Greek, the rage expressed by which is always thought of as very real. What it has in common with “bluster” is thus merely its strong minatory import. The Vulgate Latin accordingly cuts the knot by rendering it simply “threatened,” and is naturally followed in this by those English versions (Wycliffe, Rheims) which depend on it.45 Certainly Jesus is represented here as taking up a menacing attitude, and threatening words are placed on his lips: “See that thou say nothing to any man,” “See that no one know it”— a form of speech which always conveys a threat.46 But “threaten” can scarcely be accepted as an adequate rendering of the term whether in itself or in these contexts. When Matthew tells us “And he was enraged at them, saying . . .” the rage may no doubt be thought to find its outlet in the threatening words which follow:47 but the implication of Mark is different: “And raging at him,” or “having raged at him” — “he straightway sent him forth.” When it is added: “And saith to him, ‘See that thou say nothing to any one” a subsequent moment in the transaction is indicated.48 How our Lord’s rage was manifested, we are not told. And this is really just as true in the case of Matthew as in that of Mark. To say, “he was enraged at them, saying (threatening words),” is not to say merely, “he threatened them”: it is to say that a threat was uttered and that this threat was the suitable accompaniment of his rage.
The cause of our Lord’s anger does not lie on the surface in either case. The commentators seem generally inclined to account for it by supposing that Jesus foresaw that his injunction of silence would be disregarded.49 But this explanation, little natural in itself, seems quite unsuitable to the narrative in Mark where we are told, not that Jesus angrily enjoined the leper to silence, but that he angrily sent him away. Others accordingly seek the ground of his anger in something displeasing to him in the demeanor of the applicants for his help, in their mode of approaching or addressing him, in erroneous conceptions with which they were animated, and the like. Klostermann imagines that our Lord did not feel that miraculous healings lay in the direct line of his vocation, and was irritated because he had been betrayed by his compassion into undertaking them. Volkmar goes the length of supposing that Jesus resented the over-reverential form of the address of the leper to him, on the principle laid down in Rev. xix. 10, “See thou do it not: I am a fellow-servant with thee.” Even Keil suggests that Jesus was angry with the blind men because they addressed him openly as “Son of David,” not wishing “this untimely proclamation of him as Messiah on the part of those who held him as such only on account of his miracles.” It is more common to point out some shortcoming in the applicants: they did not approach him with sufficient reverence or with sufficient knowledge of the true nature of his mission; they demanded their cure too much as a matter of course, or too much as if from a mere marvel-monger; and in the case of the leper at least, with too little regard to their own obligations. A leper should not approach a stranger; certainly he should not ask or permit a stranger to put his hand upon him; especially should he not approach a stranger in the streets of a city (Lk. v. 12) and very particularly not in a house (Mk. i. 43: “He put him out”), above all if it were, as it might well be here, a private house. That Jesus was indignant at such gross disregard of law was natural and fully explains his vehemence in driving the leper out and sternly admonishing him to go and fulfil the legal requirements.50 This variety of explanation is the index of the slightness of the guidance given in the passages themselves to the cause of our Lord’s anger; but it can throw no doubt upon the fact of that anger, which is directly asserted in both instances and must not be obscured by attributing to the term by which it is expressed some lighter significance.51 The term employed declares that Jesus exhibited vehement anger, which was audibly manifested.52 This anger did not inhibit, however, the operation of his compassion (Mk. i. 41; Mt. ix. 27) but appears in full manifestation as its accompaniment. This may indicate that its cause lay outside the objects of his compassion, in some general fact the nature of which we may possibly learn from other instances.
The same term occurs again in John’s narrative of our Lord’s demeanor at the grave of his beloved friend Lazarus (Jno. xi. 33, 38). When Jesus saw Mary weeping — or rather “wailing,” for the term is a strong one and implies the vocal expression of the grief53 — and the Jews which accompanied her also “wailing,” we are told, as our English version puts it, that “he groaned in the spirit and was troubled”; and again, when some of the Jews, remarking on his own manifestation of grief in tears, expressed their wonder that he who had opened the eyes of the blind man could not have preserved Lazarus from death, we are told that Jesus “again groaned in himself.” The natural suggestion of the word “groan” is, however, that of pain or sorrow, not disapprobation; and this rendering of the term in question is therefore misleading. It is better rendered in the only remaining passage in which it occurs in the New Testament, Mk. xiv. 5, by “murmured,” though this is much too weak a word to reproduce its implications. In that passage it is brought into close connection with a kindred term54 which determines its meaning. We read: “But there were some that had indignation among themselves . . . and they murmured against her.” Their feeling of irritated displeasure expressed itself in an outburst of temper. The margin of our Revised Version at Jno. xi. 33, 38, therefore, very properly proposes that we should for “groaned” in these passages, substitute “moved with indignation,” although that phrase too is scarcely strong enough. What John tells us, in point of fact, is that Jesus approached the grave of Lazarus, in a state, not of uncontrollable grief, but of irrepressible anger. He did respond to the spectacle of human sorrow abandoning itself to its unrestrained expression, with quiet, sympathetic tears: “Jesus wept” (verse 36).55 But the emotion which tore his breast and clamored for utterance was just rage. The expression even of this rage, however, was strongly curbed. The term which John employs to describe it is, as we have seen, a definitely external term.56 “He raged.” But John modifies its external sense by annexed qualifications: “He raged in spirit,” “raging in himself” He thus interiorizes the term and gives us to understand that the ebullition of Jesus’ anger expended itself within him. Not that there was no manifestation of it: it must have been observable to be observed and recorded;57 it formed a marked feature of the occurrence as seen and heard.58 But John gives us to understand that the external expression of our Lord’s fury was markedly restrained: its manifestation fell far short of its real intensity. He even traces for us the movements of his inward struggle: “Jesus, therefore, when he saw her wailing, and the Jews that had come with her wailing, was enraged in spirit and troubled himself’59 . . . and wept. His inwardly restrained fury produced a profound agitation of his whole being, one of the manifestations of which was tears.
Why did the sight of the wailing of Mary and her companions enrage Jesus? Certainly not because of the extreme violence of its expression; and even more certainly not because it argued unbelief — unwillingness to submit to God’s providential ordering or distrust of Jesus’ power to save. He himself wept, if with less violence yet in true sympathy. with the grief of which he was witness. The intensity of his exasperation, moreover, would be disproportionate to such a cause; and the importance attached to it in the account bids us seek its ground in something less incidental to the main drift of the narrative. It is mentioned twice, and is obviously emphasized as an indispensable element in the development of the story, on which, in its due place and degree, the lesson of the incident hangs. The spectacle of the distress of Mary and her companions enraged Jesus because it brought poignantly home to his consciousness the evil of death, its unnaturalness, its “violent tyranny” as Calvin (on verse 38) phrases it. In Mary’s grief, he “contemplates” — still to adopt Calvin’s words (on verse 33), — “the general misery of the whole human race” and burns with rage against the oppressor of men. Inextinguishable fury seizes upon him; his whole being is discomposed and perturbed; and his heart, if not his lips, cries out, —
“For the innumerable dead
It is death that is the object of his wrath, and behind death him who has the power of death, and whom he has come into the world to destroy. Tears of sympathy may fill his eyes, but this is incidental. His soul is held by rage: and he advances to the tomb, in Calvin’s words again, “as a champion who prepares for conflict.” The raising of Lazarus thus becomes, not an isolated marvel, but — as indeed it is presented throughout the whole narrative (compare especially, verses 24-26) — a decisive instance and open symbol of Jesus’ conquest of death and hell. What John does for us in this particular statement is to uncover to us the heart of Jesus, as he wins for us our salvation. Not in cold unconcern, but in flaming wrath against the foe, Jesus smites in our behalf. He has not only saved us from the evils which oppress us; he has felt for and with us in our oppression, and under the impulse of these feelings has wrought out our redemption.61
There is another term which the Synoptic Gospels employ to describe our Lord’s dealing with those he healed (Mt. xii. 16), which is sometimes rendered by our English versions — as the term we have just been considering is rendered in similar connections (Mk. i. 43; Mt. ix. 30) — by “charged” (Mt. xli. 16, xvi. 20; Mk. iii. 12, viii. 30, ix. 21); but more frequently with more regard to its connotation of censure, implying displeasure, “by rebuked” (Mt. xvii. 18; Mk. ix. 21; Lk. iv. 35-41, xix. 42; Mk. viii. 30; Lk. ix. 55; Mt. viii. 20; Mk. iv. 39; Lk. iv. 39, viii. 24).62 This term, the fundamental meaning of which is “to mete out due measure,” with that melancholy necessity which carries all terms which express doing justice to sinful men downwards in their connotation, is used in the New Testament only in malam partem, and we may be quite sure is never employed without its implication of censure.63 What is implied by its employment is that our Lord in working certain cures, and, indeed, in performing others of his miracles — as well as in laying charges on his followers — spoke, not merely “strongly and peremptorily,”64 but chidingly, that is to say, with expressed displeasure.65 There is in these instances perhaps not so strong but just as clear an ascription of the emotion of anger to our Lord as in those we have already noted, and this suggests that not merely in the case of the raising of Lazarus but in many other instances in which he put forth his almighty power to rescue men from the evils which burdened them, our Lord was moved by an ebullition of indignant anger at the destructive powers exhibited in disease or even in the convulsions of nature.66 In instances like Mt. xii. 16; Mk. 12; Mt. xvi. 20; Mk. viii. 30; Lk. ix. 21, the censure inherent in the term may almost seem to become something akin to menace or threat: “he chided them to the end that they should not make him known”; he made a show of anger or displeasure directed to this end. In the cases where, however, Jesus chided the unclean spirits which he cast out it seems to lie in the nature of things that it was the tyrannous evil which they were working upon their victims that was the occasion of his displeasure.67 When he is said to have “rebuked” a fever which was tormenting a human being (Lk. iv. 39) or the natural elements — the wind and sea — menacing human lives (Mt. viii. 26; Mk. iv. 39; Lk. viii. 24), there is no reason to suppose that he looked upon these natural powers as themselves personal, and as little that the personification is only figurative; we may not improperly suppose that the displeasure he exhibited in his upbraiding them was directed against the power behind these manifestations of a nature out of joint, the same malignant influence which he advanced to the conquest of when he drew near to the tomb of Lazarus.68 In any event the series of passages in which this term is employed to ascribe to Jesus acts inferring displeasure, greatly enlarges the view we have of the play of Jesus’ emotions of anger. We see him chiding his disciples, the demons that were tormenting men, and the natural powers which were menacing their lives or safety, and speaking in tones of rebuke to the multitudes who were the recipients of his healing grace (Mt. xii. 16). And that we are not to suppose that this chiding was always mild we are advised by the express declaration that it was in one instance at least, “vehement” (Mk. iii. 12).69
Perhaps in no incidents recorded in the Gospels is the action of our Lord’s indignation more vividly displayed than in the accounts of the cleansings of the Temple. In closing the account which he gives of the earlier of these, John tells us that “his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house shall eat me up” (Jno. ii. 17). The word here employed — “zeal” — may mean nothing more than “ardor”; but this ardor may burn with hot indignation, — we read of a “zeal of fire which shall devour the adversaries” (Heb. x. 27). And it seems to be this hot indignation at the pollution of the house of God — this “burning jealousy for the holiness of the house of God”70 — which it connotes in our present passage. In this act, Jesus in effect gave vent “to a righteous anger,”71 and perceiving his wrathful zeal72 his followers recognized in it the Messianic fulfilment of the words in which the Psalmist represents himself. as filled with a zeal for the house of Jehovah, and the honor of him who sits in it, that “consumes him like a fire burning in his bones, which incessantly breaks through and rages all through him.”73 The form in which it here breaks forth is that of indignant anger towards those who defile God’s house with trafficking, and it thus presents us with one of the most striking manifestations of the anger of Jesus in act.
It is far, however, from being the only instance in which the action of Jesus’ anger is recorded for us. And the severity of his language equals the decisiveness of his action. He does not scruple to assault his opponents with the most vigorous denunciation. Herod he calls “that fox” (Lk. xiii. 32); the unreceptive, he designates briefly “swine” (Mt. vii. 6) ; those that tempt him he visits with the extreme term of ignominy — Satan (Mk. viii. 33). The opprobrious epithet of “hypocrites” is repeatedly on his lips (Mt. xv. 7, xxiii. passim; Lk. xiii. 15), and he added force to this reprobation by clothing it in violent figures, — they were “blind guides,” “whited sepulchres,” and, less tropically, “a faithless and perverse generation,” a “wicked and adulterous generation.” He does not shrink even from vituperatively designating them ravening wolves (Mt. vii. 15), serpents, brood of vipers (Mt. xii. 34), even children of the evil one: “Ye are,” he declares plainly, “of your father, the Devil” (Jno. viii. 44). The long arraignment of the Pharisees in the twenty-third chapter of Matthew with its iterant, “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” and its uncompromising denunciation, fairly throbs with indignation, and brings Jesus, before us in his sternest mood, the mood of the nobleman in the parable (Lk. xix. 27), whom he represents as commanding: “And as for these my enemies, bring them hither and slay them before me.”74
The holy resentment of Jesus has been made the subject of a famous chapter in Ecco Homo.75 The contention of this chapter is that he who loves men must needs hate with a burning hatred all that does wrong to human beings, and that, in point of fact, Jesus never wavered in his consistent resentment of the special wrong-doing which he was called upon to witness. The chapter announces as its thesis, indeed, the paradox that true mercy is no less the product of anger than of pity: that what differentiates the divine virtue of mercy from “the vice of insensibility” which is called “tolerance,” is just the under-lying presence of indignation. Thus — so the reasoning runs, — “the man who cannot be angry cannot be merciful,” and it was therefore precisely the anger of Christ which proved that the unbounded compassion he manifested to sinners “was really mercy and not mere tolerance.” The analysis is doubtless incomplete; but the suggestion, so far as it goes, is fruitful. Jesus’ anger is not merely the seamy side of his pity; it is the righteous reaction of his moral sense in the presence of evil. But Jesus burned with anger against the wrongs he met with in his journey through human life as truly as he melted with pity at the sight of the world’s misery: and it was out of these two emotions that his actual mercy proceeded.
We call our Lord “the Man of Sorrows,” and the designation is obviously appropriate for one who came into the world to bear the sins of men and to give his life a ransom for many. It is, however, not a designation which is applied to Christ in the New Testament, and even in the Prophet (Is. liii. 3) it may very well refer rather to the objective afflictions of the righteous servant than to his subjective distresses.76 In any event we must bear in mind that our Lord did not come into the world to be broken by the power of sin and death, but to break it. He came as a conqueror with the gladness of the imminent victory in his heart; for the joy set before him he was able to endure the cross, despising shame (Heb. xii. 2). And as he did not prosecute his work in doubt of the issue, neither did he prosecute it hesitantly as to its methods. He rather (so we are told, Lk. x. 21) “exulted in the Holy Spirit” as he contemplated the ways of God in bringing many sons to glory. The word is a strong one and conveys the idea of exuberant gladness, a gladness which fills the heart;77 and it is intimated that, on this occasion at least, this exultation was a product in Christ — and therefore in his human nature — of the operations of the Holy Spirit,78 whom we must suppose to have been always working in the human soul of Christ, sustaining and strengthening it. It cannot be supposed that, this particular occasion alone being excepted, Jesus prosecuted his work on earth in a state of mental depression. His advent into the world was announced as “good tidings of great joy” (Lk. ii. 10), and the tidings which he himself proclaimed were “the good tidings” by way of eminence. It is conceivable that he went about proclaiming them with a “sad countenance” (Mt. vi. 16)? It is misleading then to say merely, with Jeremy Taylor, “We never read that Jesus laughed and but once that he rejoiced in spirit.”79 We do read that, in contrast with John the Baptist, he came “eating and drinking,” and accordingly was malignantly called “a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners” (Mt. xi. 19; Lk. vii. 34) ; and this certainly does not encourage us to think of his demeanor at least as habitually sorrowful.
It is pure perversion, to be sure, when Renan, after the debasing fashion of his sentimentalizing frivolity, transmutes Jesus’ joy in his redemptive work (Jno. xv. 11, xvii. 13) into mere pagan lightness of heart and delight in living, as if his fundamental disposition were a kind of “sweet gaiety” which “was incessantly expressing itself in lively reflections, and kindly pleasantries.” He assures us that Jesus travelled about Palestine almost as if he was some lord of revelry, bringing a festival wherever he came, and greeted at every doorstep “as a joy and a benediction”: “the women and children adored him.” The infancy of the world had come back with him “with its divine spontaneity and its naive dizzinesses of joy.” At his touch the hard conditions of life vanished from sight, and there took possession of men, the dream of an imminent paradise, of “a delightful garden in which should continue forever the charming life they now were living.” “How long,” asks Renan, “did this intoxication last?”, and answers: “We do not know. During the continuance of this magical apparition, time was not measured. Duration was suspended; a week was a century. But whether it filled years or months, the dream was so beautiful that humanity has lived on it ever since, and our consolation still is to catch its fading fragrance. Never did so much joy stir the heart of man. For a moment in this most vigorous attempt it has ever made to lift itself above its planet, humanity forgot the leaden weight which holds it to the earth and the sorrows of the life here below. Happy he who could see with his own eyes this divine efflorescence and share, if even for a day, this unparalleled illusion!”80
The perversion is equally great, however, when there is attributed to our Lord, as it is now very much the fashion to do, “before the black shadow of the cross fell athwart his pathway,” the exuberant joy of a great hope never to be fulfilled: the hope of winning his people to his side and of inaugurating the Kingdom of God upon this sinful earth by the mere force of its proclamation.81 Jesus was never the victim of any such illusion: he came into the world on a mission of ministering mercy to the lost, giving his life as a ransom for many (Lk. xix. 10; Mk. x. 4; Mt. xx. 28); and from the beginning he set his feet steadfastly in the path of suffering (Mt. iv. 3 f.; Lk. iv. 3 f.) which he knew led straight onward to death ( Jno. ii. 19, iii. 14; Mt. xii. 40; Lk. xii. 49-50; Mt. ix. 15; Mk. ii. 1-9; Lk. v. 34, etc.). Joy he had: but it was not the shallow joy of mere pagan delight in living, nor the delusive joy of a hope destined to failure; but the deep exultation of a conqueror setting captives free. This joy underlay all his sufferings and shed its light along the whole thorn-beset path which was trodden by his torn feet. We hear but little of it, however, as we hear but little of his sorrows: the narratives are not given to descriptions of the mental states of the great actor whose work they illustrate. We hear just enough of it to assure us of its presence underlying and giving its color to all his life (Lk. iv. 21;82 Jno. v. 11, xvii. 1383). If our Lord was “the Man of Sorrows,” he was more profoundly still “the Man of Joy.”84
Of the lighter pleasurable emotions that flit across the mind in response to appropriate incitements arising occasionally in the course of social intercourse, we also hear little in the case of Jesus. It is not once recorded that he laughed; we do not ever hear even that he smiled; only once are we told that he was glad, and then it is rather sober gratification than exuberant delight which is spoken of in connection with him (Jno. xi. 15). But, then, we hear little also of his passing sorrows. The sight of Mary and her companions wailing at the tomb of Lazarus, agitated his soul and caused him tears (Jno. xi. 35) ; the stubborn unbelief of Jerusalem drew from him loud wailing (Lk. xix. 41). He sighed at the sight of human suffering (Mk. vii. 34) and “sighed deeply” over men’s hardened unbelief (viii. 12): man’s inhumanity to man smote his heart with pain (iii. 5). But it is only with reference to his supreme sacrifice that his mental sufferings are emphasized. This supreme sacrifice cast, it is true, its shadows before it. It was in the height of his ministry that our Lord exclaimed, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished” (Lk. xii. 50).85 Floods lie before him under which he is to be submerged,86 and the thought of passing beneath their waters “straitens” his soul. The term rendered “straitened”87 imports oppression and affliction, and bears witness to the burden of anticipated anguish which our Lord bore throughout life. The prospect of his sufferings, it has been justly said, was a perpetua188 Gethsemane; and how complete this foretaste was we may learn from the incident recorded in Jno. xii. 27,89 although this antedated Gethsemane, by only a few days. “Now is my soul90 troubled,” he cries and adds a remarkable confession of shrinking at the prospect of death, with, however, an immediate revulsion to his habitual attitude of submission to, or rather of hearty embracing of, his Father’s will. — “And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour!91 But for this cause, came I to this hour! Father, glorify Thy name!” He had come into the world to die; but as he vividly realizes what the death is which he is to die, there rises in his soul a yearning for deliverance, only however, to be at once repressed.92 The state of mind in which this sharp conflict went on is described by a term the fundamental implication of which is agitation, disquietude, perplexity.93 This perturbation of soul is three times attributed by John to Jesus (xi. 33, xii. 27, xiii. 21), and always as expressing the emotions which conflict with death stirred in him. The anger roused in him by the sight of the distress into which death had plunged Mary and her companions (xi. 33); the anticipation of his own betrayal to death (xiii. 21); the clearly realized approach of his death (xii. 27); threw him inwardly into profound agitation. It was not always the prospect of his own death (xii. 27, xiii. 21), but equally the poignant realization of what death meant for others (xi. 33) which had the power thus to disquiet him. His deep agitation was clearly, therefore, not due to mere recoil from the physical experience of death,94 though even such a recoil might be the expression not so much of a terror of dying as of repugnance to the idea of death.95 Behind death, he saw him who has the power of death, and that sin which constitutes the sting of death. His whole being revolted from that final and deepest humiliation, in which the powers of evil were to inflict upon him the precise penalty of human sin. To bow his head beneath this stroke was the last indignity, the hardest act of that obedience which it was his to render in his servant-form, and which we are told with significant emphasis, extended “up to death” (Phil. ii. 8).
So profound a repugnance to death and all that death meant, manifesting itself during his life, could not fail to seize upon him with peculiar intensity at the end. If the distant prospect of his sufferings was a perpetual Gethsemane to him, the immediate imminence of them in the actual Gethsemane could not fail to bring with it that “awful and dreadful torture” which Calvin does not scruple to call the “exordium” of the pains of hell themselves.96 Matthew and Mark almost exhaust the resources of language to convey to us some conception of our Lord’s “agony”97 as an early interpolator of Luke (Lk. xxii. 44) calls it, in this dreadful experience.98 The anguish of reluctance which constituted this “agony” is in part described by them both — they alone of the Evangelists enter into our Lord’s feelings here — by a term the primary idea of which is loathing, aversion, perhaps not unmixed with despondency.99 This term is adjoined in Matthew’s account to the common word for sorrow, in which, however, here the fundamental element of pain, distress, is prominent,100 so that we may perhaps render Matthew’s account: “He began to be distressed and despondent” (Mt. xxvi. 37). Instead of this wide word for distress of mind, Mark employs a term which more narrowly defines the distress as consternation, — if not exactly dread, yet alarmed dismay:101 “He began to be appalled and despondent” (Mk. xiv. 33). Both accounts add our Lord’s own pathetic declaration: “My soul102 is exceeding sorrowful even unto death,” the central term103 in which expresses a sorrow, or perhaps we would better say, a mental pain, a distress, which hems in on every side, from which there is therefore no escape; or rather (for the qualification imports that this hemming-in distress is mortally acute, is an anguish of a sort that no issue but death can be thought of104) which presses in and besets from every side and therefore leaves no place for defence. The extremity of this agony may have been revealed, as the interpolator of Luke tells us, by sweat dropping like clots of blood on the ground, as our Lord ever more importunately urged that wonderful prayer, in which as Bengel strikingly says,105 the horror of death and the ardor of obedience met (Lk. xxii. 44). This interpolator tells us (Lk. xxii. 43) also that he was strengthened for the conflict by an angelic visitor, and we may well suppose that had it not been for some supernatural strengthening mercifully vouchsafed (cf. Jno. xii. 27f. ), the end would then have come.’106 But the cup must needs be drained to its dregs, and the final drop was not drunk until that cry of desertion and desolation was uttered, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” (Mt. xxvii. 46; Mk. xv. 34).107 This culminating sorrow was actually unto death.
In these supreme moments our Lord sounded the ultimate depths of human anguish, and vindicated on the score of the intensity of his mental sufferings the right to the title of Man of Sorrows. The scope of these sufferings was also very broad, embracing that whole series of painful emotions which runs from a consternation that is appalled dismay, through a despondency which is almost despair, to a sense of well-nigh complete desolation. In the presence of this mental anguish the physical tortures of the crucifixion retire into the background, and we may well believe that our Lord, though he died on the cross, yet died not of the cross, but, as we commonly say, of a broken heart, that is to say, of the strain of his mental suffering.108 The sensitiveness of his soul to affectional movements, and the depths of the currents of feeling which flowed through his being, are thus thrown up into a very clear light. And yet it is noticeable that while they tore his heart and perhaps, in the end, broke the bonds which bound his fluttering spirit to its tenement of clay, they never took the helm of life or overthrew either the judgment of his calm understanding or the completeness of his perfect trust in his Father. If he cried out in his agony for deliverance, it was always the cry of a child to a Father whom he trusts with all and always, and with the explicit condition, Howbeit, not what I will but what Thou wilt. If the sense of desolation invades his soul, he yet confidingly commends his departing spirit into his Father’s hands (Lk. xxiii. 46).109 And through all his agony his demeanor to his disciples, his enemies, his judges, his executioners is instinct with calm self-mastery. The cup which was put to his lips was bitter: none of its bitterness was lost to him as he drank it: but he drank it; and he drank it as his own cup which it was his own will (because it was his Father’s will) to drink. “The cup which the Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (Jno. xviii. 11), — it was in this spirit, not of unwilling subjection to unavoidable evil, but of voluntary endurance of unutterable anguish for adequate ends, that he passed into and through all his sufferings. His very passion was his own action. He had power to lay down his life; and it was by his own power that he laid down his life, and by his own power that he trod the whole pathway of suffering which led up to the formal act of his laying down his life. Nowhere is he the victim of circumstances or the helpless sufferer. Everywhere and always, it is he who possesses the mastery both of circumstances and of himself.’110
The completeness of Jesus’ trust in God which is manifested in the unconditional “Nevertheless, not as I will but as Thou wilt” of the “agony,” and is echoed in the “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit” of the cross, finds endless illustration in the narratives of the Evangelists. Trust is never, however, explicitly attributed to him in so many words.111 Except in the scoffing language with which he was assailed as he hung on the cross: “He trusteth in God; let him deliver him now if he desireth him” (Mt. xxvii. 43), the term “trust” is never so much as mentioned in connection with his relations with God. Nor is the term “faith.”112 Nor indeed are many of what we may call the fundamental religious affections directly attributed to him, although he is depicted as literally living, moving and having his being in God. His profound feeling of dependence on God, for example, is illustrated in every conceivable way, not least strikingly in the constant habit of prayer which the Evangelists ascribe to him.113 But we are never directly told that he felt this dependence on God or “feared God” or felt the emotions of reverence and awe in the divine presence.114 We are repeatedly told that he returned thanks to God,115 but we are never told in so many words that he experienced the emotion of gratitude. The narrative brings Jesus before us as acting under the impulse of all the religious emotions; but it does not stop to comment upon the emotions themselves.
The same is true of the more common emotions of human life. The narrative is objective throughout in its method. On two occasions we are told that Jesus felt that occurrences which he witnessed were extraordinary and experienced the appropriate emotion of “wonder” regarding them (Mt. viii. 10; Lk. vii. 9; Mk. vi. 6).116 Once “desire” is attributed to him (Lk. xxii. 15), — he had “set his heart,” as we should say, upon eating the final passover with his disciples — the term used emphasizing the affectional movement.117 And once our Lord speaks of himself as being conceivably the subject of “shame,” the reference being, however, rather to a mode of action consonant with the emotion, than to the feeling itself (Mk. viii. 38; Lk. iv. 26).118 Besides these few chance suggestions, there are none of the numerous emotions that rise and fall in the human soul, which happen to be explicitly attributed to our Lord.119 The reader sees them all in play in his vividly narrated life-experiences, but he is not told of them.
We have now passed in review the whole series of explicit attributions to our Lord in the Gospels of specific emotional movements. It belongs to the occasional manner in which these emotional movements find record in the narrative, that it is only our Lord’s most noticeable displays of emotion which are noted. One of the effects of this is to give to his emotions as noted the appearance of peculiar strength, vividness and completeness. This serves to refute the notion which has been sometimes advanced under the influence of the “apathetic” conception of virtue, that emotional movements never ran their full course in him as we experience them, but stopped short at some point in their action deemed the point of dignity.120 In doing so, it serves equally, however, to carry home to us a very vivid impression of the truth and reality of our Lord’s human nature. What we are given is, no doubt, only the high lights. But it is easy to fill in the picture mentally with the multitude of emotional movements which have not found record just because they were in no way exceptional. Here obviously is a being who reacts as we react to the incitements which arise in daily intercourse with men, and whose reactions bear all the characteristics of the corresponding emotions we are familiar with in our experience.
Perhaps it may be well explicitly to note that our Lord’s emotions fulfilled themselves, as ours do, in physical reactions. He who hungered (Mt. iv. 2), thirsted (Jno. xix. 20), was weary (Jno. iv. 6), who knew both physical pain and pleasure, expressed also in bodily affections the emotions that stirred his soul. That he did so is sufficiently evinced by the simple circumstance that these emotions were observed and recorded. But the bodily expression of the emotions is also frequently expressly attested. Not only do we read that he wept (Jno. xi. 35) and wailed (Lk. xix. 41), sighed (Mk. vii. 34) and groaned (Mk. viii. 12) ; but we read also of his angry glare (Mk. iii. 5), his annoyed speech (Mk. x. 14), his chiding words (e. g. Mk. iii. 12), the outbreaking ebullition of his rage (e.g. Jno. xi. 33, 38) ; of the agitation of his bearing when under strong feeling (Jno. xi. 35), the open exultation of his joy (Lk. x. 21), the unrest of his movements in the face of anticipated evils (Mt. xxvii. 37), the loud cry which was wrung from him in his moment of desolation (Mt. xxvii. 46). Nothing is lacking to make the impression strong that we have before us in Jesus a human being like ourselves.
It is part of the content of this impression, that Jesus appears before us in the light of the play of his emotions as a distinct human being, with his own individuality and — shall we not say it? — even temperament. It is, indeed, sometimes suggested that the Son of God assumed at the incarnation not a human nature but human nature, that is to say, not human nature as manifesting itself in an individual, but human nature in general, “generic” or “universal” human nature. The idea which it is meant to express, is not a very clear one,121 and is apparently only a relic of the discountenanced fiction of the “real” existence of universals. In any case the idea receives no support from a survey of the emotional life of our Lord as it is presented to us in the Evangelical narratives. The impression of a distinct individuality acting in accordance with its specific character as such, which is left on the mind by these narratives is very strong. Whether our Lord’s human nature is “generic” or “individual,” it certainly — the Evangelists being witness — functioned in the days of his flesh as if it were individual; and we have the same reason for pronouncing it an individual human-nature that we have for pronouncing such any human nature of whose functioning we have knowledge.122.
This general conclusion is quite independent of the precise determination of the peculiarity of the individuality which our Lord exhibits. He himself, on a great occasion, sums up his individual character (in express contrast with other individuals) in the declaration, “I am meek and lowly of heart.” And no impression was left by his life-manifestation more deeply imprinted upon the consciousness of his followers than that of the noble humility of his bearing. It was by the “meekness and gentleness of Christ” that they encouraged one another to a life becoming a Christian man’s profession (II Cor. x. 1); for “the patience of Christ” that they prayed in behalf of one another as a blessing worthy to be set in their aspirations by the side of the “love of God” (II Thess. iii. 5); to the imitation of Christ’s meek acceptance of undeserved outrages that they exhorted one another in persecution — “because Christ also suffered for sin, leaving you an example, that ye should follow in his steps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (I Pet. ii. 21-23). Nevertheless we cannot fix upon humility as in such a sense our Lord’s “quality” as to obsecure in him other qualities which might seem to stand in conflict with it; much less as carrying with it those “defects” which are apt to accompany it when it appears as the “quality” of others. Meekness in our Lord was not a weak bearing of evils, but a strong forbearance in the presence of evil. It was not so much a fundamental characteristic of a nature constitutionally averse to asserting itself, as a voluntary submission of a strong person bent on an end. It did not, therefore, so much give way before indignation when the tension became too great for it to bear up against it, as coexist with a burning indignation at all that was evil, in a perfect equipoise which knew no wavering to this side or that.’ It was, in a word, only the manifestation in him of the mind which looks not on its own things but the things of others (Phil. ii. 5), and therefore spells “mission,” not “temperament.” We cannot in any case define his temperament, as we define other men’s temperaments, by pointing to his dominant characteristics or the prevailing direction of his emotional discharges.123 In this sense he had no particular temperament, and it might with truth be said that his human nature was generic, not individual. The mark of his individuality was harmonious completeness: of him alone of men, it may be truly said that nothing that is human was alien to him, and that all that is human manifested itself in him in perfect proportion and balance.
The series of emotions attributed to our Lord in the Evangelical narrative, in their variety and their complex but harmonious interaction, illustrate, though, of course, they cannot of themselves demonstrate, this balanced comprehensiveness of his individuality. Various as they are, they do not inhibit one another; compassion and indignation rise together in his soul; joy and sorrow meet in his heart and kiss each other. Strong as they are — not mere joy but exhultation, not mere irritated annoyance but raging indignation, not mere passing pity but the deepest movements of compassion and love, not mere surface distress but an exceeding sorrow even unto death, — they never overmaster him. He remains ever in control.124 Calvin is, therefore, not without justification, when, telling us125 that in taking human affections our Lord did not take inordinate affections, but kept himself even in his passions in subjection to the will of the Father, he adds: “In short, if you compare his passions with ours, they will differ not less than the clear and pure water, flowing in a gentle course, differs from dirty and muddy foam.”126 The figure which is here employed may, no doubt, be unduly pressed:127 but Calvin has no intention of suggesting doubt of either the reality or the strength of our Lord’s emotional reactions. He expressly turns away from the tendency from which even an Augustine is not free, to reduce the affectional life of our Lord to a mere show, and commends to us rather, as Scriptural, the simplicity which affirms that “the Son of God having clothed himself with our flesh, of his own accord clothed himself also with human feelings, so that he did not differ at all from his brethren, sin only excepted.” He is only solicitous that, as Christ did not disdain to stoop to the feeling of our infirmities, we should be eager, not indeed to eradicate our affections, “seeking after that inhuman apatheia commended by the Stoics,” but “to correct and subdue that obstinacy which pervades them, on account of the sin of Adam,” and to imitate Christ our Leader, — who is himself the rule of supreme perfection — in subduing all their excesses. For Christ, he adds for our encouragement, had this very thing in view, when he took our affections upon himself — “that through his power we might subdue everything in them that is sinful.” Thus, Calvin, with his wonted eagerness for religious impression, points to the emotional life of Jesus, not merely as a proof of his humanity, but as an incitement to his followers to a holy life accordant with the will of God. We are not to be content to gaze upon him or to admire him: we must become imitators of him, until we are metamorphosed into the same image.
Even this is, of course, not quite the highest note. The highest note — Calvin does not neglect it — is struck by the Epistle to the Hebrews, when it declares that “it behooved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High-priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. ii. 17). “Surely,” says the Prophet (Is. liii. 4), “he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” — a general statement to which an Evangelist (Mt. viii. 1) has given a special application (as a case in point) when he adduces it in the form, “himself took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” He subjected himself to the conditions of our human life that he might save us from the evil that curses human life in its sinful manifestation. When we observe him exhibiting the movements of his human emotions, we are gazing on the very process of our salvation: every manifestation of the truth of our Lord’s humanity is an exhibition of the reality of our redemption. In his sorrows he was bearing our sorrows, and having passed through a human life like ours, he remains forever able to be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Such a High Priest, in the language of the Epistle to the Hebrews, “became” us. We needed such an one.128 When we note the marks of humanity in Jesus Christ, we are observing his fitness to serve our needs. We behold him made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, and our hearts add our witness that it became him for whom are all things and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory to make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.
It is not germane to the present inquiry to enter into the debate as to whether, in assuming flesh, our Lord assumed the flesh of fallen or of unfallen man. The right answer, beyond doubt, is that he assumed the flesh of unfallen man: it is not for nothing that Paul tells us that he came, not in sinful flesh, but in “the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. viii. 3). But this does not mean that the flesh he assumed was not under a curse: it means that the curse under which his flesh rested was not the curse of Adam’s first sin but the curse of the sins of his people: “him who knew no sin, he made sin in our behalf”; he who was not, even as man, under a curse, “became a curse for us.” He was accursed, not because he became man, but because he bore the sins of his people; he suffered and died not because of the flesh he took but because of the sins he took. He was, no doubt, born of a woman, born under the law (Gal. iv. 4), in one concrete act; he issued from the Virgin’s womb already our sin-bearer. But he was not sin-bearer because made of a woman; he was made of a woman that he might become sin-bearer; it was because of the suffering of death that he was made a little lower than the angels (Heb. ii. 9). It is germane to our inquiry, therefore, to take note of the fact that among the emotions which are attested as having found place in our Lord’s life-experiences, there are those which belong to him not as man but as sin-bearer, which never would have invaded his soul in the purity of his humanity save as he stood under the curse incurred for his people’s sins. The whole series of his emotions are, no doubt, affected by his position under the curse. Even his compassion receives from this a special quality: is this not included in the great declaration of Heb. iv. 15? Can we doubt that his anger against the powers of evil which afflict man, borrowed particular force from his own experience of their baneful working? And the sorrows and dreads which constricted his heart in the prospect of death, culminating in the extreme anguish of the dereliction, — do not these constitute the very substance of his atoning sufferings? As we survey the emotional life of our Lord as depicted by the Evangelists, therefore, let us not permit it to slip out of sight, that we are not only observing the proofs of the truth of his humanity, and not merely regarding the most perfect example of a human life which is afforded by history, but are contemplating the atoning work of the Saviour in its fundamental elements. The cup which he drank to its bitter dregs was not his cup but our cup; and he needed to drink it only because he was set upon our salvation.
Dr. Benjamin B Warfield graduated from the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University, in 1871 and after a period of study abroad at Edinburgh and Heidelberg entered Princeton Theological Seminary and was graduated with the class of 1876. Following a year's study at Leipzig, Germany, and a short pastorate in Baltimore he was appointed instructor in New Testament Language and Literature in Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh and a year later elected professor. In 1886 he was called to succeed Archibald Alexander Hodge as professor of Systematic Theology in Princeton Theological Seminary — a position which he occupied with great distinction until his death in 1921.
Dr. Warfield won early recognition as a scholar, teacher and author. He received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from the college of New Jersey in 1880; that of Doctor of Laws from both the College of New Jersey and Davidson college in 1892; that of Doctor of Letters from Lafayette College in 1911; and that of Sacrae Theologiae Doctor from the University of Utrecht in 1913. He was editor of the Presbyterian and Reformed Review from 1890-1903 and until the time of his death, the chief contributor to the Princeton Theological Review.
This article was original from Biblical and Theological Studies, by the Faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary; pp. 36-90, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1912 and reprinted in The Person and Work of Christ, pp. 93-145.
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