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Bible Jesus

Jesus and Sadness

When you think of Jesus, just how human is he? I’ve been posting on this theme lately because I’ve been thinking about it for years, and for whatever reason, during this spring break, these little snippets are just overflowing. This morning it’s Mark 14:17–25 that I think poses a nice challenge.

As Jesus sits with his closest friends, having already told them multiple times he is about to suffer and be killed, he breaks the news that one of them is going to hand him over. What’s the tone of the conversation? Yes, of course, you see all the disciples scrambling in bewilderment, each of them asking, “Me? Is it me?”

But look up at Jesus’ face. What do you see? We’ve been in this literary world how many times in our life? Have you looked at his face?

I think we often see him looking down, eating, sitting up straight, sort of stone faced, chin up. If we were to caption this perception of him, it might say, “I know what one of you is about to do. I know.” Stern voice, resignation, laying down the truth.

That can’t be all of it. Surely he is sad. Surely he struggles to say these words. Do you think Gethsemane is the only time he felt grief and sadness and loneliness? Stoic, truth-telling philosopher all his adult life then goes straight to grieving like a madman in the garden — that can’t be it, can it?

He was despised and rejected by people — a man of suffering, familiar with sickness. (Is 53:3)

He repeats himself in various ways as he breaks the news. As his friends are in disbelief and probably again thinking what he is saying can’t be right — they always think he is off base — he says, “One of the twelve.” That had to sting. One of the twelve that he called out and lived with for so long. Then speaking more directly to the moment, “One who is eating with me.”

How could he say those words with dry eyes or without a stutter or mumble or sigh? He sees the faces of those he knows will miss him more than any others. He knows the pain they are about to experience. Don’t you fear the pain that others will experience when you are gone? Didn’t he feel that?

Then there is verse 22. Imagine: He knows what’s coming. He picks up the bread, with his friend who will betray him in the room, and he breaks it. He breaks the bread. Doesn’t he know that symbolizes his body? Isn’t he the one that told us that? He broke it. Don’t you think his emotions were stirred?

He had to be made like them, fully human in every way. (Heb 3:17, NIV)

Do the gospel authors have to tell us every time he feels sadness for us to go there? Isn’t it enough that they told us he was born to Mary? Isn’t it enough that Hebrews says he was like us, fully human in every way? Isn’t that warrant for imagining his eyes and voice showed the same emotions you experience?

After he broke it he gave thanks. Have you worshipped genuinely in the midst of grief and sadness? I imagine that little table blessing was marked by pain. He picked up the cup that he knew was a symbol of his blood. Don’t you think he feared the lashes and the nails and the suffering? He will struggle to breathe.

How can “one of you will betray me” not be marked by grief and sadness and loneliness? How you imagine his face and his voice matters a whole lot. We are in a season where we need to know that he is familiar with sickness and sadness, loneliness and pain.