Emotions are a mysterious phenomenon. Think about it. A person’s smile has the power to make you feel something pleasant inside. A person’s tears can throw you into tears with them even before you know why they’re crying. The mere fact that another human being is happy or sad somehow impacts your own state of being. Emotions are invisible links of identification with the experiences of others.
Or maybe not.
Actually, the fact that we are emotional beings tells us something astonishing and wonderful. We can reason it through like this: If God is love, and if love is the capacity to empathize with others, well then, we are most like God when we feel the feelings of others. It is also true, then, that we are least like God when we are insensitive to what others are experiencing.
At this time of year, we are thinking about the most astounding thing that has ever happened in all of universal history: God “became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). What was the incarnation of God in Christ but the most infinite display of empathy imaginable?! In the person of Jesus Christ, God revealed that He is in complete emotional solidarity with the hurts and woes of the human race.
Watch God in Christ fall facedown to the ground, weeping in prayer, and you see God accurately.
Describing the empathy of God in Christ, Scripture says that He was “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15, KJV). Then, pulling aside the veil to show us what He went through in Gethsemane, we are told that He “offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears” (Hebrews 5:7).
But when God became a human being in the person of Jesus Christ, this wasn’t merely a one-off event, before which and after which God was impervious to our feelings. The incarnation was, rather, a revelation of God’s essential and eternal character. By coming all the way down and entering into complete union with us, He was simply and profoundly following through with who He was all along and ever will be. Yes, the incarnation was a new event in the history of the universe, but it was a manifestation of a reality as old as God Himself: “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
See God in Christ, feeling the hurts and struggles of every person He came into contact with, and you see God as God is. Watch God in Christ fall facedown to the ground, weeping in prayer, and you see God accurately.
Behold, God incarnate!
Behold, the infinite empathy of a God who feels all the feelings of every person in the world!