Life at times can be a roller coaster of emotions. We can go from great joy to the depths of despair. We can find themselves on cloud nine with the discovery of true love (I’m a hopeless romantic) to being really at the bottom—because of the loss of a loved one, or through the arrival of other bad news.
Now, of course. some people seem to take the whole range of emotions in their stride, somehow managing to avoid the peaks and troughs. But for most of us, the extremes—the heights of joy and the depths of depression—with a period on an even keel, is much more the norm.
It is interesting, therefore, to note that many Christians believe that people of faith should somehow be exempt from the depths; that God should somehow cushion the blows. And if those depths still come, then it means that there is something wrong with their spiritual life with God.
Now I’m not sure where that idea comes from. It’s certainly doesn’t come from the Bible. Because as this passage from Luke suggests, even Jesus went through the wringer as far as emotions are concerned.
Indeed, this passage from Luke gives us three scenes, all closely following one another. And they all demonstrate a range of emotions that Jesus had to face.
Now it’s important to remember at the outset, that Jesus had just been through a period of great joy. He had been treated like a king. It was Palm Sunday and palm branches and cloaks had been thrown down for him and his donkey to walk on.
So, when our first scene comes, it comes as a rude shock. Because as the procession reached the hill overlooking Jerusalem, Jesus was distraught, he was in tears (41-44).
Jesus knew that the city would shortly be destroyed. The people had rejected him on several occasions, and even though he knew that they would have one last chance to accept him, he knew what the result would be: That in five days they would be demanding his life, and he would tried and executed.
Now you can understand the depths of Jesus’s despair. Not only did it mean the end of his life, but it also meant that Jerusalem—the place where God had chosen to dwell with his people, symbolised by the presence of the Temple—would be destroyed. Indeed, not one stone would be left upon another. So that feeling of great joy at the royal procession had suddenly changed to the depths of despair.
Later that day, we find Jesus at our second scene. He had just come down off the hill and had entered the Temple. But this time, it is not a tearful Jesus that we see, but one who was filled with righteous anger (45-46). For Jesus was driving people out of the house of God.
Now there were some people who needed to be there selling things. There were parts of the Temple set aside, where animals were sold so that people could make their sacrifices. But it was not the genuine sellers about which he was angry. Rather it was the sellers who were there other reasons—and it wasn’t for prayer or to learn more about God. No! They were using the Temple to make money and for commercial rivalry. And it is to these people to whom Jesus’s anger was pointed.
These people were opportunists. They had a total disregard of God and the sacredness of his Temple. So Jesus’s righteous anger was very understandable.
But his anger didn’t last long. Because when we get to the third scene, and again it’s in the Temple, we find a very different Jesus (47a).
Now we’re told that from Palm Sunday to Maundy Thursday, Jesus and his disciples could be found every day in the Temple, and Jesus taught the crowds that gathered around him. (And this instance could relate to any of the four days.) And yet, whilst no mention is made of Jesus’s emotional state—for there is no hint of any distress or anger—the fact that he was in the Temple says something about the compassion he had for the people. Because despite everything, he still cared. On the Friday, the crowd would make their final rejection, but that wasn’t going to stop him using every minute of his time, while he could, to give people the opportunity to change.
So there’s quite a variety of feelings that Jesus faced. There was the excitement of the Palm Sunday procession, turning into the distress and tears as he looked down from the top of the hill into Jerusalem. Then there was the anger at the abuses in the Temple, followed by the compassion that he had by continuing his teaching every day in the Temple. Talk about roller coaster rides of emotions.
And if Jesus faced that range of emotions, then we can hardly expect to be any different. After all, didn’t Jesus teach his disciples that they needed to follow in his footsteps? And didn’t Jesus teach his disciples that they would face exactly the same things that he faced? The only difference is that he promised to be with them always and that he would help them through.
As a consequence, we all go through a range of emotions. Some of us seem to be continually on that roller coaster ride, whilst others manage to lead lives which appear to be much more even. But whichever description describes us best, we can take heart, for we have a saviour who knows well what we’re going through. And even though we may at time endure much pain, nevertheless, if we are people of faith, we can rest assured that Jesus is with us, and can and will help us through our difficulties.
Posted: 21st August 2020
© 2020, Brian A Curtis