The Trouble with Jesus

“Now my soul is troubled.” (John 12: 27)

FearI just couldn’t get my mind and heart off of those five words in the gospel lesson for this Sunday. Jesus knows that his own literal version of carrying his cross is just around the corner. Contemplating his fate he says partly to himself and partly to God, “Now my soul is troubled.” It would have been easy to dismiss the words as being utterly obvious. Of course, his soul was troubled. He was too committed to his divine mission to run away, but human enough to picture the torturous fate that was surely facing him.

But I couldn’t dismiss it. I couldn’t let it go as if it was almost too obvious to be worth mentioning. What was it about it that kept me mulling it over, repeating it to myself, and chewing on the words? Some faint memory kept nagging at me that told me that this might not have just been normal human terror when our bodies are threatened. There was something deeper to it, something worthy of Jesus character.

Betrayal“Now my soul is troubled,” he says, but I wonder if he wasn’t as troubled by his own fate as he was by state of the world that was leading to his torturous death. I wonder if he wasn’t as disappointed in what people were doing to him as he was disappointed in the people who were doing it.

Do you know what I mean? Have you have ever been hurt or betrayed by someone you loved and the real pain was not the wound itself that you endured but the fact that it was your loved one who had committed it. Like the first time your spouse or lover intentionally tosses a verbal barb your direction. The verbal barb itself would hurt if it was a stranger, but the betrayal if often worse than the verbal barb when it comes from a loved one.

I wonder if, when Jesus said, “Now my soul is troubled” he wasn’t shaking in his sandals, but he was hurting for those who were about to commit this atrocity. I wonder if, at his core, he was shaken by those who had stood by him and who would shortly either betray him or deny him. I wonder if Jesus wasn’t so much fearing for his own life, but was hurting and fearing for the world.

praying in churchEvery week we get together in worship and we take time to offer prayers of intercession as we pray for each other and for our world. We make a plea to God to be present, to heal, to comfort, to correct, to convict, to remind, to guide and to love. But I wonder too if part of being the body of Christ is, like Jesus himself, to take on the feelings of the world, to hurt for the world and to feel the world’s pain.

I wonder if Jesus was more troubled by what the world did to him than he was by what was done actually done to him. I wonder if this how he prayed. I wonder if this is how we ought to pray.

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