Divine Empathy

John 11:35

Jesus burst into tears.

I love this translation of the shortest verse in our Bible. It seems to really capture the language and feel from the author. It’s so powerful.

Jesus was deeply moved to tears.

What moved Jesus so deeply in this story?

We must admit that it is difficult to clearly pinpoint what exactly moved Jesus to such deep feeling here. But I believe we can say with some confidence that we do see the heartfelt humanity of Jesus.

In seeing the heaviness of grief over Lazarus’ death, his friends mourning and sad, the hopelessness of death in some there, Jesus becomes overwhelmed himself with tears.

We truly have a God who is intimately familiar with our range of human emotions. Jesus was susceptible of the impressions of joy, grief, and other affections.

One of our most foundational emotional needs as humans is to feel felt. To have at least one person in our life, hopefully more, to whom we can say, “You get me.” It’s mind-blowing, or “ShastaPuss” (the word I use to describe that which is beyond human language) to think that our Creator is such a person.

Jesus showed us God, and this revelation shows us a God of compassion to the fullest degree we can’t even imagine, proof of how really our Lord is one with us.


God with us.

Every single emotion, no matter how fleeting, that you will feel today, God has not only felt before in Jesus, but feels with you in real time as you feel it.

This is one of the paramount and most profound differences of Christianity that truly sets it apart from the other religions of the world and ancient myths. There are many creation stories, flood narratives, and epic tales of sacrifice for others. But I know of no other account in which an almighty Creator God binds him or herself to the humanity which she created in such a manner as to become one with them–and then dying for them in order to be reconciled together!

Venturing beyond my self-imposed word limit, I want to leave you with this quote from Sir Oliver Lodge in his Man and the Universe from 1908:

The Christian idea of God is not that of a being outside the universe, above its struggles and advances, looking on and taking no part in the process, solely exalted, beneficent, self-determined, and complete; no, it is also that of a God who loves, who yearns, who suffers….This is the truth that has been reverberating down the ages ever since; it has been the hidden inspiration of saint, apostle, prophet, martyr; and, in however dim and vague a form, has given hope and consolation to unlettered and poverty-stricken millions:–A God that could understand, that could suffer, that could sympathize, that had felt the extremity of human anguish, the agony of bereavement, had submitted even to the brutal hopeless torture of the innocent….This is the extraordinary conception of Godhead to which we have thus far risen.

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