Learning from How Jesus Handled His Need for Intimacy

Jesus is so many things to us. He is our Savior, Redeemer, and King, our Elder Brother, and the Head of the Church. And He is also our Example. Whenever we struggle with anything we can look to how Jesus dealt with things to show us how to move forward. As a human, Jesus needed intimacy. So how did Jesus handle that need?

The people who knew Jesus when He was here on earth had no trouble believing He was human. He seemed just like them, with all the physical limitations and various emotions of other humans. Their challenge was in coming to understand that He was God.

For most of us, our challenge is the opposite. We know Jesus was and is God, but we often fail to fully understand how human Jesus also was – and is. He had the same vulnerabilities we do. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

That means Jesus had the same need, desire, and capacity for intimacy that you and I have. Jesus was never married, never had sex. And if Jesus was fully human, He had all the sex hormones, sex organs, and sex drives that any of us humans have. Remember, sex and intimacy are not the same, and understanding that makes a huge difference.

But again, Jesus needed intimacy. In looking to Him as our Example, how did He deal with that need?

Jesus’ Intimacy with His Heavenly Father

I was talking about Jesus as our Example with a group of men and women going through our Sexpectations course. One twenty-something single young man I’ll call Dan said, “But Jesus was a special case. He was without sin, unlike the rest of us. Jesus was extremely tight with His heavenly Father.”

Bingo! Dan was assuming that Jesus’ example didn’t really apply to him. But his response was truer than he first realized. Jesus wasn’t encumbered by the platonic belief that the spirit is good and the body is bad. His body, mind, and soul experienced no split; they were completely integrated. His whole being was daily, intimately connected with His Father.

Jesus lived in, breathed the air of, daily intimacy with His Father. There wasn’t a second that Jesus and His Father were not connected. We often read in the gospels how Jesus would withdraw from the crowds and even from His disciples to spend alone time with His Father. They were so close that He could say, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works” (John 14:10).

Jesus was completely real with His Father. In the Garden of Gethsemane He brought His deep distress to Him, praying “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done” (Matthew 26:42). That’s a man baring his soul. And on the cross His deepest pain was sensing His Father turning His face away: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

Can we be that close with our Heavenly Father?

Jesus Pursued Intimacy with a Few People

Here’s something you may be surprised by: there’s a sense in which intimacy with God wasn’t by itself enough for Jesus. A moment-by-moment connection with His heavenly Father was the air in which Jesus breathed, and He also needed people.

How did Jesus seek human intimacy? Jesus was comfortable with lots of people around, but that’s not where He invested most of His time or where He got filled up. He poured most of Himself into a small group – a motley band of 12 disciples and a few women who followed Him everywhere. He did life with them, eating, talking, walking, hanging out, being with.

And there was an even smaller group who He felt especially close to. Jesus seemed unapologetic about being closer to Mary Magdalene, to Peter, James, and John, or to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. These were people who understood His heart, who nourished His soul just by being with them. He needed them, and He wasn’t afraid to show it.

When you think of it, Jesus’ need for these close friends was astounding. You might have thought that the God of the Universe wouldn’t need people, but Jesus sought out these friendships even at the risk of getting hurt.

And He did get hurt! It was messy. His bids for connection weren’t always reciprocated. He felt deep loneliness, misunderstanding, and harm from those He sought intimacy with. One of His close friends betrayed Him. One of His three most intimate friends denied Him. Those He relied on let Him down right when He needed them most.

And yet He pursued intimacy with a few humans anyway.

Following Jesus’ Example

Jesus needed intimacy. The implications for you and me seem both clear and daunting. How can we do this?

The only chance you have of growing in wholeness, including sexual wholeness, is truly connecting with God with your whole being – not only with your intellectual left brain, but also with your emotional right brain, your body, all of you. Your journey with God comes to the place where you truly feel seen and known by Him. He’s the One filling your deepest heart needs, available 24/7/365. You’re doing life with Him.

This may stir up mixed feelings. Part of you may want that kind of connection with God, but another part of you deeply distrusts that it’s even possible, or that it would be good. It sounds too spiritual to make any real difference in your life, or especially your sex life. You’re not completely sure you want Him that close.

But Jesus describes the connection you and I are to have with Him as intimate. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). You can’t live, let alone thrive, for a moment without that connection. Intimacy with God needs to become the air in which you breathe also.

And as human beings we also need, truly need, intimacy with other humans. If Jesus needed that, do you think you can get by without doing the same?

It’s worth it to do the hard work to find your people. Friends, this is not easy. I struggle with it myself. I’m naturally an introvert. My default is to hole up in my house curled up with a book, and there are times for that. But I’ve discovered that I truly need people. It takes intentional energy for me to pursue authentic intimacy with a few others, but it’s truly worth it.

If we’re going to follow Jesus’ example, you and I will have to pursue intimacy with a few other humans also, even as messy as that can be.

Pursue Intimacy

Your Turn: What does considering how Jesus needed intimacy mean for you? Where do you need to make a change in how you deal with this part of your heart?   Leave a comment below.

Want More? In this week’s podcast episode with Preston Sprinkle we get into some deep questions about marriage, same-sex attraction, and what Jesus has to say. Listen or watch here.

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  • As a man, Jesus needed intimacy. How did He deal with that need? Jesus breathed the air of intimacy with His Heavenly Father. And He also sought real connection with a FEW other humans. You and I need to do the same. Tweet that.

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