During Lent we hear Gospel accounts of temptation, miracles, and eventually of the Passion of our Lord. Hearing these year after year means we become very familiar with them, Sometimes that familiarity causes us to simply go through the motions of our Lenten and Holy Week preparations without realizing the full significance of what actually happened. I know that for myself, the Holy Week liturgies always center me and bring me face to face with the reality of what Jesus did for me and for us all. But even before Holy Week, two little words never fail to remind me of the enormity of that sacrifice,
“Jesus Wept.” (John 11:35)
Often we read the Gospel and are so focused on the gloriousness of Jesus being fully diving, that we forget He is also fully man. In a mystery we may never understand, Jesus is God and man. Not half God and half man; but wholly God and wholly man in every way except sin. Just like all men, He faced temptation, He had friends and family, He ate, He drank, He slept. He grew frustrated at times. He felt joy. And He most certainly felt pain.
When Lazarus dies, Jesus, being fully divine, know that this death is not the end. And yet, His fully human nature is revealed by those two words, “Jesus wept.” The loss of a friend, the grief He witnessed in Martha and Mary, it all affected Him in a very real and very human way. And He wept.
This seemingly normal reaction becomes more profound as we begin to realize that Jesus did not lose His humanness as His death approached. Think of the Last Supper, the agony in the garden, and the crucifixion with the knowledge that He experienced all these things as man. The betrayal of friends, feeling abandoned by God, suffering, and even death. Jesus knows the pain we experience in this world because He Himself faced it.
Being fully human does not diminish His divinity but rather enhances it. Jesus is God. And God is not far off, distant, or unconcerned with us here on earth, No. Our God is so loving that He sent His only Son to us as a man to show us the way. To let us know that there will be pain and suffering in this world but that it is not the end.
So if we feel lost or alone, like no one else knows the pain we face, let us remember that Jesus knows our pain. He experienced it in a very real, very human way, And as we approach Holy Week, let those words ring in the back of our minds as we recall His sacrifice for us. God became man in Jesus and as man He felt every bit of that sacrifice. For us He came into this world. He lived. He loved. He suffered. He died. He wept.photo: “Jesus Wept” – James Tissot; Brooklyn Museum