Was Jesus Stoic?

Maybe you’re familiar with an argument that goes something like this:

  1. As Christians, we should have an eternal mindset
  2. If we have an eternal mindset, we won’t be bothered by the ups and downs of life
  3. Thus, if we’re bothered by the ups and downs of life, we must not have a mature eternal mindset

In other words: if you’re struggling with where you are in life right now, then stop being so short-sighted. Focus on eternity. If only you were more spiritual, then you wouldn’t be so down and emotional.

And so, we try. We try to bury our emotions. To conceal our doubts. To suppress our grief.

But, wait.

Have you ever
honestly looked at Jesus?

Jesus was the most eternally-minded, future-focused guy ever to set foot on the planet.

So when he interacted with others, what was he like?

Was he…

Coolly detached?
Unshakably stoic?
Calm and uncaring?
Resolute and emotionless?


No, not at all.

Jesus was routinely moved with emotion.

He groaned. He was moved. He became troubled. On more than one occasion, he wept.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them.

Matthew 9:36

When he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it.

Luke 19:41-42

When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her.

Luke 7:13

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them.

Matthew 14:14

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.

John 11:33-35

Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd.”

Matthew 15:32

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears.

Hebrews 5:7

He … began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.”

Mark 14:33-34

Brothers and sisters. It is simply not true that Christ-likeness equals stoicism.

Jesus was not emotionless.
Neither should you be.

Our God, when he was on earth, entered right into the realm of human sorrows. He visibly shared and experienced our profoundest griefs and emotions.

That is significant.

We serve a God who is not indifferent to our cries. He never turns a deaf ear to your fears and anxieties. He knows what it’s like to be human, to be deeply touched by fear and sadness and every other emotion possible.

So don’t be ashamed of your tears. Emotions are not bad. They’re not a sign of weakness—they’re a sign of being human. And God became human. Isn’t that the beauty of the gospel?

He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 2:17

One thought on “Was Jesus Stoic?

  1. I’m a Yorkshireman, and we’re stereotypically stoical. I’m an Englishman, with our stereotypically stiff upper lips! Thanks for the reminder and challenge to be conformed to Christ emotionally! 🙂

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