CW: self-harm, depression, anxiety, suicide
Part of the human experience often involves feelings of shame, awkwardness, and regret. Sometimes people feel hateful toward themselves, depressed, stressed, or anxious. Some may even feel compelled to inflict harm on themselves. These are all valid feelings and important perspectives to understand about the human experience.
When many of these negative feelings are so common, it can be a real struggle to understand how God incarnate could relate to the dark side of being human. Part of the answer comes from what the Bible says. (See Hebrews 4:15; Luke 1:80; 2:40). The other part comes from what the Bible does not say, but people merely assume (1 Corinthians 4:6). One thing to keep in mind is that just because things like depression, anxiety, stress, etc. are things people DO experience, that doesn't mean they are things people must experience. Many of these responses are simply unhealthy and damaging ways we respond to life.
Scripture says Jesus was sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21), so He never responded to anything in an immoral or unhealthy way. But it also says He was “tempted” in the same ways we are (Hebrews 4:15), and He experienced everything a physical, mortal person would (Mark 4:38; 11:12; John 11:36). That included some sense of learning and growing (Luke 1:80; 2:40). We sometimes assume that Jesus never made any mistakes—like getting a math problem wrong or struggling to tie His sandals. Some believe Jesus never cried as a baby and was a perfect child who did everything right.
But there’s no reason to think that way; those mistakes are not “sins.” There’s no reason to think that Jesus didn’t experience what it means to learn to walk or talk, to dress Himself, or to make mistakes as He worked alongside His father to learn a skill (Mark 6:3).
That means things like “awkwardness” may very well have been part of Jesus’ temptations. Jesus sat in grieving sorrow for two days (John 11:6). He felt frustration at His closest friends (Matthew 16:22-23). He experienced shame and abuse during His crucifixion (Hebrews 12:2). But some human behaviors are sinful or unhealthy responses—not normal temptations or natural reactions.
We feel self-hatred when we forget about God’s sense of our value (Genesis 1:27; Matthew 10:29-31). We feel the painful version of regret when we know we’ve done something wrong (2 Corinthians 7:10). We may consider suicide when we allow the darkness to obscure God's light in our lives.
Yes, it can certainly be hard for us to relate to Jesus sometimes, especially since we don’t have His divine perspective. But it shouldn’t be as hard to see how Jesus can relate to us because of that same divine nature. We don’t need to fully understand Him or what He sees and knows (Isaiah 55:8-9). We can trust He knows us well enough to have sympathy for us (Galatians 4:9; Hebrews 4:16).
If Christ demanded we live sinless lives in order to receive salvation, our inability to grasp His experiences would be really bad news (1 Timothy 3:16). But sinlessness is NOT what He’s asking from us. He’s actually telling us to accept the fact that we cannot know or understand everything, that we can never be completely sinless, and that we need Him to take care of our sin for us (1 Peter 5:7; Titus 3:5).
So in some ways, yes, there are some human feelings which Jesus probably never felt. But those would only be the ones rooted in having a sin nature—like self-hatred and prolonged regret. Awkwardness, shame, making mistakes, and the rest are not necessarily things He was free from. And in the end, what matters about the gospel is that Christ understands US, something He can do because He is God, and that He loves us no matter what (John 3:16).
Scripture says Jesus was sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21), so He never responded to anything in an immoral or unhealthy way. But He was also “tempted” in the same ways we are (Hebrews 4:15), and He experienced everything a physical, mortal person would (Mark 4:38; 11:12; John 11:36). In some ways, there are some human feelings which Jesus probably never felt, but those are ones rooted in having a sin nature. Awkwardness, shame, making mistakes, and the rest are not necessarily things He was free from. While it can be hard for us to relate to Jesus sometimes, it shouldn’t be hard to see how Jesus can relate to us due to His divine nature. We can trust He knows us well enough to have sympathy for us, understand us, and love us no matter what (Galatians 4:9; Hebrews 4:16; John 3:16).
Jeff is a staff writer with Got Questions Ministries and used to be a mechanical engineer. When he's not accidentally setting things on fire in his workshop, or petting strange dogs, he loves helping people better understand God’s Word and how it applies to our lives. Jeff's calling is to untangle the "big picture" of Christian faith, making it easier to understand.