GOD HAS FEELINGS, TOO
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
February 10, 2019
41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” 45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” 47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.
— Luke 19:41-48, ESV
The Old Testament Prophet Isaiah refers to God as, “The One who is high and lifted up” (ref. Isaiah 57:15). Indeed He is. But is it possible to sing, “Lord I lift Your name too high,” or otherwise exalt Him so far into the heavens that we can no longer see Him, hear Him, or feel Him?
Many people fear God without the enjoyment of loving Him, think of Him without the comprehension of knowing Him, and refrain from speaking to Him because they do not know how to listen and learn from Him. False religions and pop culture have combined to turn God into an impersonal being. Even contemporary church members think of God as a mere force, like the one in Star Wars, or at best an intelligent, calculating, unemotional creature, somewhat like Star Trek’s Mr. Spock. But God is a real person, three persons actually, in one. And God has feelings, too.
God the Father has deep feelings of pain and regret. When He looked upon the utter sinfulness of the early human race, “It grieved him to his heart” (ref. Genesis 6:6). The same can be said of God the Holy Spirit, about whom Paul warned us, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (ref. Ephesians 4:30).
Of course, “The whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (ref. Colossians 2:9) in the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. He fulfilled prophecy when He came to earth as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (ref. Isaiah 53:3). Jesus let His feelings show, too. You can see them before, during, and after the cross. Take the Monday after the original Palm Sunday, for example.
Jesus Wept, Again
The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35. It succinctly says, “Jesus wept.” I do not believe it was the first time and I know it was not the last.
I think the baby Jesus wept when He thought of the other baby boys his age in Bethlehem being slaughtered by the evil King Herod. I think the youthful Jesus wept when He heard the bumble-headed priests in Jerusalem twist Scripture like televangelists (and I think He still weeps at the later). I know the Lord shed a few tears at the grave of Lazarus, and I suspect more than a few tears mingled with sweat drops of blood on His face at Gethsemane. Jesus wept, this is true, again and again and again.
Tears reveal the deepest emotions, the most intense feelings. Weeping can be a sign of great love and joy. More often, however, weeping represents great sadness and loss. Yes, God has feelings, too, and we need to understand what makes God cry.
Jesus wept over the pain of rejection, over the lack of love and faith among the Jewish people. “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (ref. John 1:11). Save for eleven of the original dozen and a few dozen others, nobody on this day believed that Jesus was and is the promised Messiah who came to offer Himself as “the way, the truth, and the life” (ref. John 14:6).
Jesus wept over the catastrophic consequences of unbelief, too. Jesus knew that since the Jews rejected and denied their Prince of Peace in Israel, nothing was left for them but holy war with Rome. Just as Jesus predicted, Romans invaded Jerusalem in AD 70 and utterly destroyed the city and the temple, leaving devastation and death in their wake.
God weeps, still, over unbelief and its consequences. It grieves the Lord, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, when people disbelieve the gospel and prove it by disobeying the word of God. He delights not one iota when a person perished outside faith in Jesus Christ. God said through Ezekiel, “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” (ref. Ezekiel 18:23).
If God is our God, if these are God’s feelings, how should we feel? What should we do? Perhaps we should make a greater effort to evangelize and fill up our churches with true worshipers. Perhaps some of our churches need to be put in order first, after looking further at the feelings of God.
Jesus Got Angry, Again
John’s Gospel records Jesus cleaning out the temple at the beginning of His public ministry. Mark and Luke record this episode at the end, on the manic Monday before Good Friday. Like the emotions that bring forth tears, this is not the first nor the last time Jesus got, a few words come to mind here, angry.
This episode should serve to correct the caricature of God as some old, grandfatherly character in the likeness of Santa Claus, Mr. Rogers, or Oprah Winfrey. On this day, God incarnate spoke loudly and carried a big stick. The Lord laid hands on people, and not to heal them, either. What in the world, or in the church, could make Jesus so mad?
No faith makes Jesus weep but bad faith makes the Lord mad. Faith is bad when people use it as a means of making money, like the money-changers in the temple or the word-of-faith preachers of today. Faith is bad when people think they can buy off God with scant religious rituals or occasional observances, like nominal Jews at Passover or superficial Christians at Easter. Faith is bad when it is not viewed as a gift from God that transforms a life and creates a hunger and thirst for the word of God and good worship.
Bad faith makes for bad worship. It angered Jesus to see how worship was being conducted during His last Passover. It angers Him still, in our day, when churches are turned into markets for merchandise, venues for entertainment, and halls of amusement. It makes the Lord mad when churches resemble malls, mimic modern music and light shows, and pop off canons and confetti when unconverted children are baptized.
If God is our God, if these are God’s feelings, how should we feel? What should we do? We should make sure we worship in spirit and truth, with word and sacrament, with faith and hope and love. If we do, some will learn to love Jesus the way we do. Most, unfortunately, will not.
Jesus felt Love and Hatred, Again
You can see where Jesus puts sorrow and anger on the map. However, the polar extremes on the planet of emotions are love and hate. God is on record as experiencing both in great measures. He loves, because “God is love” (ref. 1 John 4:8,16). He reserves the right to hate, and not just people’s actions, but the people themselves (ref. Psalm 5:5; Proverbs 6:16ff; Malachi 1:3; Revelation 2:6).
All of the prerogatives of God are not our own. The Supreme Being may love and hate, but He has commanded His children to always embrace the former and forever shun the latter. What God does we may not always do, but what God feels we should always feel.
Jesus felt love and hate, in the highest, during Holy Week. What do you call it when people are “seeking to destroy” you? You call it hate and enmity. What do you call it when people are “hanging on” to every word you say? You call it love and devotion. Jesus felt them both, again and again, in His ministry.
Remember that all of these things and all of these feelings were experienced as a response to the public ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. He offered Himself, publicly and triumphantly, to Jerusalem. The people responded, lovingly and hatefully, to the Lord. God was hurt, and cried. God was angry, and cleaned out the temple. God was loved and hated, but responded with only love.
If God is our God, if these are the feelings God engenders, how should we feel? What should we do?
Make sure you feel real love, not hate, towards the Lord Jesus Christ. Lovers of God repent of the sins that separate us from Him and believe totally in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Lovers of God love God and God’s people through active involvement in Christ’s body, the church. Lovers of God love others outside the church by seeking to bring them into God’s kingdom through prayer, witness, and above all, love. Anything and everything else, for with Christ there is no middle ground, is hate.
Hating God does not require violent actions or denunciations. Hate is not reserved for the atheists and adherents of false religions. Hate, today like it was in Jesus’ day, lives in the hearts of those who claim to be God’s own people, like in the Jews of Jesus’ day and too many professing Christians in our day. All you have to do to hate is ignore, disobey, or otherwise fail to love and obey the word of God. Now, like then, those who do not hang on to His words are in various ways and means trying to destroy Him.
I have preached sermons and offered leadership to churches where some members hung on every word while others tried to destroy me. It is amazing how the same person and the same words can create such extremely opposite feelings among people. I must tell you, it does not always feel good to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It may not feel good, but it is good, very good to be an outspoken follower of Jesus, herald of the gospel, and purveyor of God’s word, the Bible. So follow Christ, and be prepared to share His feelings.
So let people know where you stand on the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let it make you sad when people do not believe. Let it anger you when professing believers engage in hypocrisy and blatant disobedience. Let it perplex you when people love you and hate you. Then keep on following the Lord Jesus Christ, who understands, because God has feelings, too.
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Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org