Then He said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.” (Matthew 26:38)
Sometimes I realize that I think of Jesus as being like Superman. You know, faster than a speeding bullet, stronger than a locomotive and able to leap across tall buildings in a single bound. And Jesus is super because He is God.
But Jesus is also human, and I tend to forget that. And Jesus’ humanness is not a fake disguise, like Superman’s pretense of being Clark Kent. Jesus really is human.
So when I read in the Gospel accounts about times when Jesus was greatly challenged, I have operating in the back of my mind the assumption that those challenges were not really real for Jesus. All he needed to do was find a nearby phone booth and change his clothes and he would be able to deal with that difficulty like it was child’s play. But it was not really like that.
In Philippians 2:7, we read that Jesus “…emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Jesus emptied Himself, that is, He set aside the use of His divine powers and He lived life as a human being just like you and me.
And Jesus’ humanness is clearly evident as he prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus’ “…soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” Three times, Jesus asks His Father to take away the cup of suffering that Jesus was soon going to drink to the bottom. This is no pretense. And the emotional suffering that Jesus experienced in Gethsemane would soon give way to physical suffering as Jesus was beaten, flogged and nailed to a cross where He would also experience the spiritual suffering of abandonment by His Father who turned away in horror at the sight of our sin on Him.
There are times in our human lives when our soul feels overwhelmed to the point of death. There are times when we suffer great physical pain. There are times when our heart is broken by guilt or overcome by shame and it feels like God has turned His back on us. But because of Jesus’ very human suffering that last feeling is never true. God will never turn His back on us.
In Jesus, we have a God who knows from personal experience what it is like to experience human suffering as we do. And the suffering that Jesus experienced results in glorious gifts for us like forgiveness, soul healing, eternal life and kinship with God. Jesus is with us in the midst of our suffering and He will bring us safely through it. With Jesus, there is always hope.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, when I suffer please help me to never lose sight of You. Carry me, I pray, and help me to rest in You. Amen.