he knows what hurts within us

6 05 2008

“what made Jesus of nazereth the greatest lover in history is that he really knew then and he really knows now what hurts people… the loves and hates, hopes and fears, the joys and sadnesses of each of us…Jesus knows what hurts us. not only knows but, knowing, seeks us out – whatever our kind of poverty or pain, however we weep, wherever we feel unloved.

if you read the gospels carefully, you find how fine-tuned Jesus is to our loneliness, our frustration, our emptiness, our cynicism, as well he is to our joys and to our consolations; that he really know what hurts the human heart.

it shows up all throughout his public ministry on earth: with a sinful woman, the home of simon the pharisee, the woman who washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair, with the adulterous woman in danger of stoning, with the thrice-denying peter, with the 23 year-old john in the upper room, with the widow weeping on the road to calvary, … it shows up in all those passages which describe Jesus as ‘having compassion’.

the greek verb ‘splagxniðzomai’ is used 12 times in the 4 gospels and is usually translated into english as ‘he was moved with compassion’. however, because of the poverty of our english vocabulary we really don’t capture the etymological meaning of splagxniðzomai, and depending on which translation of the bible you may use, it may say ‘he was moved with pity’, ‘he felt sorry for them’, or ‘his heart went out for them’, but they all miss the deep emotional flavor of this greek verb, … which is derived from another greek term meaning ‘bowels’, ‘intreals’ and ‘intestines’… the deepest parts of a person from which the strongest emotions such as love and hatred arise.

when you read in the gospels that Jesus was moved with compassion, it was saying that his gut was wrenched, his heart torn open, and the most vulnerable part of his being laid bare. and Jesus says to us, don’t ever be so foolish as to measure my compassion for you in terms of your compassion for one another.

when we speak of Jesus, as Emmanuel, as God with us, we are saying the greatest lover in history really knows what hurts us. There is absolutely nothing that Jesus does not understand about the pain that hangs like a darkening cloud over our lives.

if you are crying out and longing for a hand to touch you, an arm to embrace you, lips to kiss you… longing for someone who is not afraid of your cynicism, your skepticism, your indifference, your shallow faith, your inconsistent discipleship, … there comes a sacred man who says, ‘it’s ok. i understand, i am here, i am with you, i am for you, and your pain reverberates in the depth of my own being.”

—– brennan manning (excerpt from “he knows what hurts within us”)