If we look at Paul for example – the one apostle we are allowed to get to know more intimately than any of his fellow-apostles – we are struck most forcibly by the way he copes under duress. Whether it be through Luke’s biographical glimpses given in the book of Acts, or through Paul’s own self-disclosure in the candour of his epistles, we see a man who was not immune from the entire spectrum of human emotions in his wide-ranging experiences of life and service.
We are familiar with treatments, such as that by B.B. Warfield, on the emotional life of Christ and we very quickly realise why it is vital to our understanding of his Person and work. God, in Holy Scripture has seen fit to include this insight into the incarnate life of his Son, not just to underscore the genuineness of his humanity, but also to encourage us in the realisation that he is able to sympathise with his people in their life struggles. But do we also realise that God has seen fit to include an insight into the emotional life of his prophets and apostles in the Bible?
Whether it be the very personal glimpses we are given into the experiences of Moses, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and, perhaps most strikingly, Hosea in the Old Testament, or their New Testament counterparts in the lives of the apostles, we are allowed to see them ‘warts and all’. Even in the midst of doubts and failures, they are presented as they really were – men who shared the same humanity that is ours.
Why does this matter? Whereas in the glimpses we are given of the emotional life of Christ, there is salvific significance; in the case of his servants the significance lies in how God works out his great salvation in their lives and through their labours.