For this reason He had to be made like them, fully human in every way, Hebrew 2:17
Every way. Fully human. I continue on my journey of mutual understanding and today God leads me into the heart of Jesus. He lays open both mine and His, side by side, and lets me see how they share a well-spring of emotion.
The easy one to see is love. We are made in His image (Genesis 1:26) and we are borne out of love, to love. We have been created with a great capacity to love, and when we love, Jesus feels that with us. He understands how we sometimes ache with this emotion that cannot be put into words. He knows how we feel when we look at our children, the first time they are laid in our arms, when they run in the grass, when they are giggling on the living room rug, when they walk across a stage and are handed a diploma, when they are joined in marriage to another, when they become parents themselves. He knows this, because He has lived this. Watching us from Heaven, He has seen us do all of that. He knows the sweet love of friendship, as we see in His relationships with Lazarus and his family, and with John and other disciples.
He also knows the price we sometimes pay for loving as He has made us able. He knows that it sometimes hurts and completely wrecks our hearts. He understands the pain of rejection and indifference. He feels the lifetime of non-response. He totally gets this about us and draws us into His arms in understanding. His Spirit carries this heart-wreckage to the Father who holds us and wipes our tears and promises an eternity where there is no rejection or dashed hopes.
I look now at a place most difficult in my humanity and find there is an ugly side to my heart. Anger. What I discover is Jesus understands this dark side of who I am. Jesus, like us, has a breaking point. His reaction to the misuse and flagrant disrespect of the temple, which had the purpose of being meetinghouse of prayer, shows us a markedly different aspect of His personality. (Matthew 21:12ff and John 2:13) Much of the time in the gospels, He seems incredibly patient and loving. He is, at the most, verbally scathing toward those that misrepresent the Truth of His Father’s words. But this temple scene is something altogether different. The incident in John’s account records Jesus’ response to what angers Him as a physical, as well as emotional response. He actually makes a whip of cords. That must have taken deliberate searching for something to wield and perhaps some time to construct. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if He just picked up the first long-reaching item He laid eyes on, scooped it up, and started flailing. I know what I am like when I am boiling over, going from 0 to 50 in a matter of seconds. Sadly, I confess to you that our vacuum parts have sailed across the kitchen at least once. And our kitchen still bears a dented reminder of a cup slammed down in frustration. Regardless of whether or not my anger is a well-placed reaction to irreverent behavior (and how often can I honestly justify it in that way?), I take comfort in knowing that Jesus understands when I rage. He’s been there. He has felt the black tide swell in His heart, too.
Have you ever wrung out your heart over someone you love? I have. Jesus has, too. He’s like us that way. He understands our conflict of emotions when those we love hurt. We can cling to the One who has already been there and who knows that the hurts we feel are deep and scarring. He holds out hope for the reward for endurance and offers comfort in understanding. Take a peek at Matthew 23:37-39, Luke 13:34,35 as Jesus laments over the people that His Father has shepherded through the centuries, close to His heart.
Who has not felt the heart-crushing sadness of loss? John 11:33-36 Jesus wept. Here too, God shows me how my Savior deeply understands and feels my losses. There is more to these verses than the fact that they contain the shortest scripture in the Bible. Look at how He hurt for those that lost someone they loved. He was moved by others’ trodden spirits. Scripture shows us how close Jesus was to Lazarus and his family. His death is a loss to Jesus in His time on Earth just as it was to Lazarus’ family and community. I rejoice that I have a Savior that, despite how He experiences the ‘other side of Heaven’, He is moved by my sadness, and understands my grief and personal loss.
Another difficult heart struggle in being human is having a troubled soul. There is so much in scripture prompting us to be peaceful, joyful, and focused on the reward of spiritual perseverance. So much so, that it is easy to feel guilty, or judge ourselves as ‘spiritually weak’ when our hearts become heavy and burdened. But look! See how Jesus lived with this same human quality. Return to the death of Lazarus. (John 11:33) When He saw her (Mary) and the Jews weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. Like us, Jesus agonizes over loss. Jesus, like us, feels the weight of difficult situations. In John 12:27, God shares with us Jesus’ emotions during His last weeks on Earth. “Now is my soul troubled.” What is it that He felt? Dread? Fear? A longing that He could avoid the inevitable? Who of us hasn’t felt those very same things? John 13:21 “When Jesus had thus spoken, He was troubled in spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” Wow. Even though He fully understood this was coming, His heart ached over the betrayal. How many of us have felt betrayed by someone close to us? A friend? A church leader? A spouse? A child? A coworker? An employer?
Jesus ‘get’s all of this. He can hold our wounded hearts because He has felt the hurt and astonishment, the ‘rug pulled out from under you’ feeling. He has experienced the weight of trials and the dread of unfolding events.
Today I am reminded once again how beautiful God’s perfect plan is, to raise up a Savior that is the perfect sacrifice for me and a mediator that completely understands me because He has lived it. Mired in humanness that I am, I can run to the arms of Jesus who has lived with and among the sticky mud of human emotion.
Praise God for such a Savior that knows and comprehends the depth of our being!