Progressive Christian Channel
Was Jesus a Drama King?
Jesus is revealed as a person who feels his anger deeply and unambiguously. You know where he stands. His actions show us that what we believe and how we act matters to God. It reveals what's wrong. It fights against injustice and oppression. It causes change. It makes noise. And it may even get us into trouble.
3) Jesus felt his fear, allowing it to energize and empower his resolve.
Jesus experiences a climax of fear in an olive garden called Gethsemane. As he and his disciples gather on this dark night, Mark's account (14:32-42) says he takes Peter, James, and John with him a little farther to a place in the garden where he could pray. Jesus "began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, 'I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.'" In another translation Jesus says, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." He went further into the garden and "threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him." He acknowledges that with God "all things are possible" and pleads for God to "remove this cup from me"—the cup of suffering and death. And yet, "not what I want, but what you want." Jesus is willing to let go of his fear, his terror over the betrayal, suffering, and death that await him, for the greater glory of the will of God.
Perhaps this act of surrender to his purpose calms his troubled soul. Jesus has wrestled with his terror—the ultimate matters of torture and brutal death—and surrenders to God's will. As a fully human being he has embraced his feelings, acknowledged them, prayed over them, and turned them over to God. He confronts his deepest fears, his ambivalence about what is to happen, so that, out of his deep anguish, he can say "yes" to God: "Your will be done."
4) Jesus fully felt his grief and so is able to offer true hope.
When Jesus joins his friends Mary and Martha at the tomb of their beloved brother Lazarus in John 11, we witness the unrestrained weeping of a broken heart. Some commentators assume Jesus would not grieve because he knew he was able to restore Lazarus to life, but it cannot be clearer that Jesus experiences a rush of grief so deep that he bursts into tears. Here, together with sorrowful family and friends outside the tomb, Jesus enters into and embraces the grief of those around him. His fury at death is strangled and overwhelmed by his sorrow over death's catastrophic impact on the human family.
Again this moving story reveals to us that Jesus experienced and expressed real emotions just as we do. The message of this account in John, however, goes much deeper than that, as N. T. Wright has pointed out: "When we look at Jesus, not least when we look at Jesus in tears, we are seeing not just a flesh-and-blood human being but the Word made flesh (1.1-14). The Word, through whom the worlds were made, weeps like a baby at the grave of his friend. Only when we stop and ponder this will we understand the full mystery of John's gospel. Only when we put away our high-and-dry pictures of who God is and replace them with pictures in which the Word who is God can cry with the world's crying will we discover what the word 'God' really means."
5) The truly joyful Jesus promised complete joy to those who follow him.
Peter Wallace is the host of "Day1" and author of The Passionate Jesus: What We Can Learn from Jesus about Love, Fear, Grief, Joy and Living Authentically (SkyLight Paths Publishing).