Monday, May 26, 2014

Anger, Compassion, Love, Frustration and Weeping: Relating to Jesus.

There is a lot said in the four gospels, and its not all the same type of stuff.  Maybe what stands out the most are the parables and the teachings of Jesus.  Second to that, we probably remember the stories of Jesus.  We often have the tendency to treat every passage of gospel as something to learn.  That's not a bad thing, certainly.  But I wonder, what should we learn from the shortest verse in the New Testament: Jesus wept?  The theological significance of this story is?  The doctrinal teaching we can take away from this is?  Other than the fact that there's nothing unmanly about crying, since Jesus is the Man of all men, there's nothing really taught within these two words.  But the words take us beyond the teaching of Jesus to the actual Person of Jesus.  Jesus was and is a Person.  He has feelings.  He has a human nature.  And the kind of things we experience, He experienced too.

Jesus' close friend, Lazarus, had just died.  Jesus loved Lazarus.  Of course Jesus knew what He was about to do.  He knew that this was not Lazarus' end.  So why did Jesus cry?  If Jesus knew that Lazarus was about to be alive in a few minutes, what's the reason for crying?  Remember the last time you were at a tragic funeral.  For me, it was the funeral of my cousin.  She was killed in a car accident, and it had a major impact on the whole family.  I'm not Jesus, and I couldn't raise my cousin from the dead, but even if I could, I think I still would have wept at the funeral.  Its hard - maybe impossible - to not feel grief when everyone around you, who you know and love, is consumed with grief.  Its hard not to share in their sadness.  Its hard not to be sad, firstly, for the death itself; but then its hard not to be sad because of everyone else's sense of grief.  Its impossible to say for sure if this is the reason Jesus wept.  But one thing we can say for sure, Jesus felt sadness.  Jesus was not immune to the atmosphere of grief.  Jesus was not too cold to sympathize with all his friends who had lost their dear Lazarus, even when He knew that Lazarus wasn't really lost.

Let's look at another example.  In Matthew 15:16 and Mark 7:18 we have this rhetorical question from Jesus: "Are you so dull?"  He is responding to their lack of understanding.  Now let's take it for what it is.  Its not meant to be some profound teaching.  Its not meant to be a critique on the disciples.  If we analyze it too much, we'll come to the wrong conclusion.  Jesus was simply expressing His frustration.  Its like He was saying, "what, are you guys a bunch of idiots?"  Of course we see Jesus with a halo over his head, and we think Jesus could never be affected like that.  But the fact is, Jesus was/is human.  Just as Jesus felt sadness when He wept, He also felt the frustration of having to continuously explain everything to a bunch of knuckleheads.  Who can blame Him?  If you're a decently intelligent person, you've experienced that feeling quite a bit.  And of course Jesus is way more than just a decently intelligent person.  Here we have the wisest and smartest man to ever walk the earth talking with a group of (let's be honest) not so intelligent fishermen.  His level and their level were vastly different.  Naturally, He was frustrated with them.  We see the same kind of thing in Matthew 17:17, where Jesus says, "O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you?  How long shall I put up with you?"  Then He heals the demon-possessed boy.

So what's my point?  Its really about relating to Jesus and loving Jesus.  Yeah, a lot of people "love" Jesus.  They say they do.  That's because they're taught that they're supposed to love Jesus.  Its a doctrinal statement.  Right after declaring that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God, third Person of the Trinity, they say they love Jesus.  Its the correct Sunday-school answer.  But are they really expressing their true feelings?  For instance, do they love it when Jesus outwits the Pharisees and teachers of the law?  Do they really cheer Him on like "yay, one for the home team"?  Are they in awe of His wisdom?  Or how about His wisdom being used to save the life of an adulteress (literally, He saved her life)?  Do the stories, the teachings, the wisdom, the wit, the character, and the human expressions of Jesus have an affect on them, so that they really do love Him, or are they just making another doctrinal statement?  I think its important that we relate to Jesus.  I know for myself that my whole faith in Christ is founded upon who He is, and how I've been able to relate to Him and learn from Him.  The words in the Bible, particularly those in red, are just magical to me.  I don't care whether I'm supposed to say that or not, or whether its the right kind of churchy thing to say.  I say it because it really is.  It is my experience from reading the Bible and learning about Jesus.  I would say to anyone who is just beginning, you do not have to love Jesus, but you do have to get to know Jesus.  First, actually learn who Jesus is.  Read all about Him.  Then, once you know Him, you will naturally love Him.  You will not love Him because you have to.  You will love Him simply because He is so lovely.

I realize that this blog post has not done the title justice.  I said, "Anger, Compassion, Love, Frustration and Weeping," and I certainly did not cover all of those emotions in the couple examples I gave.  But the rest are there, believe me.  Its a great opportunity to go through the gospels and pay attention to all the different times when Jesus is expressing His feelings.  Its a great way to relate to Jesus.  Its a great way to get to know Jesus.  And its a great way to learn to love Jesus.

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About Me

Unimpressive in person. But always praying that these letters I write will be weighty and forceful. I serve the Almighty as a servant of Christ. I strive to conquer hearts and minds with the word of God. I am nothing, but the Holy Spirit living inside me is omnipotent. By Him I can run and not grow weary, or walk and not be faint. All glory and honor be to God and to Jesus the Christ.