‘Jesus and his disciples came to a place called Gethsemane. Jesus said to them, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James, and John along with him. He began to feel despair and was anxious. He said to them, “I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying. Stay here and keep alert”’ (Mark 14:32-34 CEB).
Distressed? Agitated? Afraid?
Would you use these words to describe Jesus? Most of us would not. However, in the scripture above, we read that Jesus experienced emotions just like the rest of us.
I’ve been participating, along with other church members, in a 40-Day Lent study by Adam Hamilton. In Day 10 of his 24 Hours That Changed the World: 40 Days of Reflection, he reminds us that Jesus was feeling what any human should feel when facing what he was going to face.
‘In Jesus Christ, God experienced anguish, sorrow, and suffering as human beings do,’ he writes.
In Hebrews 4:15-16, Paul wrote, ‘For we do not have a high priest unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but, we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.’
A personal experience
Have you ever been distressed, agitated or afraid? I have. I recall a time in February 2007 when I received a phone call from Tina, wife of my oldest son Casey. He was being transported by Life Flight to a Tulsa hospital for an injury he’d sustained in an accident.
Casey, who is what you would describe as a ‘horse whisperer,’ had been picking up a horse from a client when the animal spooked. Whirling around, the horse kicked, striking him in the side of the face and knocking him unconscious. Thank the Lord, my son was not alone. A friend had called 911.
Arriving at the hospital, our family learned a CAT scan revealed a crack in the base of my son’s skull. Spinal fluid was also leaking from his nose. It didn’t look good. As the doctor returned to tend to him, I paced the halls of the hospital, praying like I’d never prayed before. I said, ‘God, I know it must have distressed you to see your Son go to the cross. I can’t imagine what you were feeling but Father God please don’t take my son. I’d rather give up my life instead.’
God truly loves us
It was in that moment that I understood, really understood, how much God loves us.
By the way, God heard this mother’s prayers. When the doctor returned, a second CAT scan revealed there was no crack in my son’s skull and no evidence of spinal fluid leaking from his nose. ‘I can’t explain it,’ he said.
I replied, ‘I can.’ With a smile of gratitude, I said, ‘He was healed by the greatest physician of all.’
When we are agitated, sorrowful, overwhelmed and afraid, we can know that Jesus understands. Doesn’t that bring you comfort?
If you’ve seen Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, or any other movie portraying the last hours of Jesus, you know the horror he faced. I, for one, cannot wrap my mind around the cruelty inflicted on him, let alone any human. Yet, this was a common practice during those times.
God, through Jesus, knows how we feel
In Day 30 of Adam Hamilton’s book, the author says, ‘There are many dimensions to the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Among them is the idea that in Jesus’ suffering and death, God was fully identifying himself with us and was able to experience what we go through as human beings.’
I find that comforting and am thankful that most of us will never experience that kind of cruelty. Hamilton adds, ‘God knows what it means to feel small, to be attacked mentally and emotionally, and to be physically abused.’
In three of the gospels – Matthew, Mark and John – we read of the humiliation Jesus experienced at the hands of the Roman soldiers. Hamilton adds, ‘He was taken before the entire cohort – some three hundred to six hundred soldiers – who stripped him naked, mocked him, crowned him with thorns, struck him, and spat on him. He stood there naked, accepting the meanness, the hate and the cruelty. I envision his strength, staring at his tormentors with determination and perhaps a glint of pity. He took their spittle, their blows, their taunts.’
As a child growing up in southwestern Louisiana, I often felt left out because I didn’t fit in. I had friends – several close ones – but we were not a part of the ‘in’ crowd. My best friend, Gwen, and I were not athletic and tended to gravitate to the library where we usually had our noses in a good book.
Because of our ‘differences,’ Gwen and I were often picked on. I realise now that God has had his hand on me from the beginning and he knew how small I felt back then.
Jesus suffered so much for us
Hamilton adds, ‘For every child who was ever picked on, taunted and humiliated, Jesus stood there that day. For every man and woman who was ever made to feel small by others, he stood there that day. For every victim of torture, everyone falsely condemned, everyone who has been abused by another, he stood there as if God were saying, “I subjected myself to the hate and meanness of others so that I could identify with you.”’
Think about the pain Jesus suffered for you and thank him for identifying with your hurt and pain. Also, ask him to forgive you for the times when you may have hurt someone.
Carol Round follows her passion of using her writing and speaking abilities to inspire others. Recommended: Journaling with Jesus: How to draw closer to God and its companion workbook, The 40-Day Challenge as well as Nana’s 3 Jars: Giving Generously (See TheBuzz).