Last week I was privy to overhear (I promise I wasn't eavesdropping) a conversation and question. The question, if I heard it correctly had to with Jesus in the hours of His crucifixion. "How can I relate to Him enduring that? If He's fully man and fully God, isn't that a bit of an advantage over us? How am I to endure pain when I'm just a human?"
Standing there and listening, I felt I had an immediate answer, that it all comes down to not really knowing how we will react in such moments until we are in such moments, so we shouldn't worry. I think I even tried to blurt that out, but thankfully I don't think it was heard. Over the course of the next week the question was stuck in me. How can we relate to Jesus? Is it presumptuous to think I can relate to Him?
After hearing the discussion, I came across this passage in a Mother Teresa book.
When we give bitterness
"To quench the thirst of Jesus for souls," means for love—for love of me and for love of others. When Jesus was dying on the Cross, He cried, "I thirst." We have these words in every Chapel of the MCS (Missionaries of Charity) to remind us what an MC is here for: to quench the thirst of Jesus for souls, for love, for kindness, for compassion, for delicate love. When Jesus was in pain on the Cross, the soldier—out of kindness and with a very good intention to help Jesus forget His pain by letting Him go to sleep with a tranquilizer—prepared the bitter drink of vinegar and gave it to Jesus to drink. Jesus, not to hurt the soldier, took it but He only tasted it. He did not drink it because He did not want to forget the pain and His sufferings. No—He loved me and died for me—He suffered for me. Very often, we too offer bitter drink to Jesus. This bitterness comes from the depth of our hearts and wells up in our words, our attitudes to one another. "Whatever you do to the least of My brothers, you did it to Me." When we give this bitterness to one of our sisters, to one another, we give it to Jesus."
Reading this struck me with the idea of simplicity in giving of ourselves to serve and comfort those in need of comfort. I know what it is like to be thirsty and wishing for water. I know what it's like to need a hug and the feeling of no one there to give me that hug. But to think I can give away to others what I need, as being unto Jesus, it amazes me to see how much I really have. How do we offer of ourselves to comfort and minister to one another? I don't know if this is a sidetrack to the question of relating to Jesus, but it got me wondering of how I can relate to others.
To relate to Jesus, I think following Him is a good place to start. I suppose the question I ask is, why did Jesus do anything that He did, or anything that He does? What motivates Jesus? It sounds cliché, but I believe His life is carved out in love for His Father. The Father loves His children beyond expression. Jesus saw people, all people, as brothers and sisters, as objects of God's love. And Jesus knew His mission was to be this love. This love wasn't just a feeling, but a giving of Himself completely to His Father and to us, then and now. Experiencing fully what we experience, Jesus can relate to us. He put his experience into what we experience. We sin, He offers forgiveness. We get lost, He seeks afters us and delivers us. We are friendless, He calls us brothers. We get sick, He visits us. We go to prison, He visits us. We hunger and thirst, go naked, and He both feeds and clothes us. Think of what you experience. How does Jesus relate to you? The mystery, He says when we feed, clothe, visit, we do it unto Him personally.
I've never been a parent, but I imagine from that perspective the sacrifices parents make for their children. As a single person, I know my selfishness all too well. I have a freedom to go where I please, generally when I please. But looking at parents, I see them often give and sacrifice for their children. I'm sure it's not always a pleasant feeling to stay up all night with a sick child, or to visit your kid in jail, but parents do it anyway. Why? Because it is their child. Even if the child hurts the parent verbally or physically, the parent will still love their child.
Jesus Needed Comforting
Looking at Jesus going to the cross, we are privy to His prayer just before in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was not just sitting there with His feet up knowing in comfort that in a few days, this drama would be over. He knew this night He would be betrayed, deserted by his friends, arrested, beaten, insulted, accused, condemned, and be put to death. He asked the Father to remove this cup He would drink, but let the Father lead Him still. He sweat drops of blood from His troubles. In the midst of that prayer, an angel came and strengthened Jesus. If Jesus is Jesus, I find it comforting that even He needed a hug in that moment. He wanted another way, but that way would not come. He could have bolted and say the heck with this...but He didn't. Why?
There have been moments where I've experienced insults and backlash for sharing about Jesus to others, both in and out of the church. It's never been something I seek out and it's alarming when it happens. Somehow though, I've found an odd comfort in seeing Jesus stand there with me, and that it's OK. I'm not the champion of anything beyond beating Bowser with Mario, but I found myself feeling the joy to have the privilege of standing with Jesus as He was insulted or dismissed.
As the years have gone on, some of that joy has been mingled with a sadness. I've been at a loss to convey just how much Jesus has done for me, and I find a sadness that people wouldn't want to have and experience Jesus for themselves. Anyways...
With Jesus, I believe as a parent that He was looking at His children. We were cut off from God, lost and without hope. We need to be found and rescued, and cleaned up. If Jesus is One with the Father (John 8:29, 10:30), then Jesus was caring for us as a parent cares for their child.
Even though it hurts, what do we know is right? How do we see ourselves in relation to Jesus and others?