The Emotional Jesus: Studies in Mark, Pt. 45

One of the things that I love about Mark’s Gospel is that in it, we find a very emotional Jesus. Indeed, as I have journeyed through the text, I have repeatedly felt like I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster with Him. I have constantly been reminded just how real and human Jesus was. I mean, this is much more than just the occasional citation of “Jesus wept”!!! Jesus is a man full of feeling, full of passion and full of emotion. I take comfort in the fact that the God-man is able to know my emotions because He’s had them too, that He’s able to relate to me and that He’s able to comfort me. Thank God for the Gospel of Mark! Notice the sweep of emotions throughout Mark’s work; I’ve included many but not all of them in the list below. Pray today; go to God with all of your emotions and just rest in His presence. Know that He understands!

Emotion in Mk:

* 1.9-13 – Tempted
* 1.20 – Hungry (Mark seems to portray this as a type of emotion)
* .6 – Rejected
* 3.20-30 – Rejected
* 1.35 – Contemplative
* 1.41 – Indignant (some variants say “compassion”)
* 3.5 – Angry
* 5.33 – Pleased
* 5. 40 - Mocked
* 6.1-6 – Discouraged & Amazed
* 6.14-29 – Sad (Implied by context)
* 7.1-23 – Frustrated
* 9.19 – Upset
* 9.42 - Passionate
* 10.14 – Indignant
* 10.16 – Compassionate
* 10.17-32 – Very angry
* 11.11-7 – Very angry
* 11.12 – Hungry
* 14.9 - Pleased
* 14.33 – Distressed
* 14.34 – Sorrowful
* 14.35 – Fearful
* 14.37-41 – Frustrated/Disappointed
* 15.16-32 – Demeaned/Mocked/Abused
* 16.14 – Frustrated
* Not to mention all of the other implied frustrations, annoyances, etc. that we discern from certain episodes (e.g. 1.21-8; 8.29-33)


  1. Fascinating! What amazes me most here is not the extent of the emotions expressed, but how little joy or happiness is expressed here...

  2. drew,
    good insight, i noticed that too. that's the thing with mk., immediately jc is sent to the wilderness, right after that he is confronted w/a demon and corrupt religous system and then they begin the plot to kill him in 3.6. it's all kind of downhill from the beginning, emotionally, speaking, of course.

  3. This pathos is one of the notable characteristics of Mark. His Jesus smells more like a human being than the other accounts. I think this is why Mark's is the gospel that has been set to music most often.

    As for joy . . .
    With the memory of Nero's cruelty still fresh in the mind of the author (and living under the thumb of Vespasian and Titus and Domitian was no picnic either), it doesn't surprise me that there is little joy expressed there.

    How does the old Psalm go?
    "How can I sing my song of Zion in a foreign land"



  4. Q,
    great thoughts. i probably date this a little earlier than you, before that great war rather than after it but either way, your point about imperial cruelty and lack of joy is well taken. food for thought. i wonder, too, if, from a narrative point of view, the whole thing had to be anticlimactic throughout so that teh end would be that much more powerful? presently, i'm trying to make an audio recording of mk. (grk and english) and this has got me wondering how tone might have been portrayed. in other words, when the gospel was being performed, did the performance seem dreary and bleak? or was it more monotone like a lecture? was it passion filled like a southern preacher? i'm wondering how the presentation would have evoked different emotions. i find this all quite interesting.

  5. As a performer, my intuition tells me that the original reading of Mark was as crude and jagged as the text in fact WOULD read naturally.

    I'm also inclined to think that, as time passed and more variations of the story were collected with increasing christological accretions, the performance style kept pace with these innovations. In other words, the crude humanity of a "performance" of Mark gave way to a more refined and smoothed over lyrical reading by the time the final edit of John was done.

    This is actually a fascinating topic. Has anyone ever done this kind of analysis from Roman/Judean theatrical perspective?

    ok . . . . gotta go to work now . . . .


  6. Q,
    Yeah, Whitnery Shiner has done a ton of work on this and his stuff is incredibly compelling. Pieter Botha also makes some very great arguments and offers really good ideas on the subject. Werner Kelber, though, is perhaps the most notable. This is an area I find myself gravitating towards and that in the future, I hope I can make some gains in.

    As for Mark's jagged Greek, you're right. I'm am still trying to make up my mind as to whether or not it was because he was a native aramaic speaker toggling back and forth... many people think that's an absurd idea but i certainly do not. craig evans and others have really offered convincing research in this area.

    in my readings/recordings i am trying to act like a theater type of person, i veer from typical "stress marks" and add emphases and overemphases on certain words and phrases; i'm trying to just do something different with it. toying with the text this way is quite fun.