when Jesus seems distracted

It’s Holy Week.

Easter is coming.

My little one-thousand word blog could never begin to cover the power and the value of these next few days.

With each passing year, the sacrifice of Jesus seems to hold more weight. We need Him more than ever. It seems as if suffering and injustice are at an all-time high. Has there been any part of you lately that feels guilty to celebrate anything good? I mean, it feels like the world is burning around us. People are still dying from this pandemic, and that is really just the beginning of the heartbreak. To be very honest with you, I can’t keep up with the tragedies. The shootings. All of the injustices. And as the world continues to spin, we each walk through our own personal sufferings that come with life.

Have you ever belittled your own situation because it doesn’t seem as horrible as someone else’s? Have you compared sufferings and deemed your own as “not as bad”?

Easter displays for us so many things. It is the ultimate proof of God’s love. It is the culmination of everything that our faith is based on. Our salvation, our forgiveness, our righteousness before God. But can I tell you another truth that Jesus modeled for us on the cross?

Even the greatest suffering doesn’t distract Jesus.

Check out this tiny moment within John’s account of the crucifixion:

“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved [John] standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

John 19:25-27

Can we even grasp this? First off, this little group near the cross modeled something so valuable: presence during suffering. They knew they could never fix or stop what Jesus had to endure. And yet, they were there anyway. The epitome of helplessness.

There is a beautiful reward to remaining with others in suffering. John was the only disciple present with Jesus and the brave women. And in their remaining, they were acknowledged by their Savior as He died for the sins of the world.

Okay, now put yourself in Mary’s sandals. Any time my thoughts try to delve a little deeper into her experience, I have to work to hold myself together. None of us will ever have perfect children. Mary did. She had a Son who loved her completely and fully. And now she stood at His bloody feet, helplessly watching the greatest and most horrific injustice in human history. What might she have been thinking?

I don’t very often take this kind of liberty and imagine what kind of thoughts Mary might have had. I’m going to today. Along with her gut-wrenching grief and sorrow, I wonder if these were some of the thoughts hidden in the back of her head:

I always knew Jesus would care for me. Who will care for me now? Ugh, I’m so selfish. What’s wrong with me? My beautiful Son is suffering, and I’m worried about my future… My problems don’t matter right now.

And without one ounce of verbal complaint, in His most vulnerable state, Jesus cares for her tomorrows. As He bleeds and hangs, He notices Mary and acknowledges her needs. He makes sure someone will take care of her.

Even the greatest suffering doesn’t distract Jesus.

Even in His own suffering, He notices the deep, unspoken needs. How much more, then, even as a vulnerable world around us feels like it’s breaking apart in pieces, can Jesus notice our deep needs, too?

The Easter story teaches us about our salvation, yes. But it also teaches us about our present. Our personal needs are not insignificant to Him. He is not too busy caring for someone else to also care for you. The truth is – are we present enough for Him to be able to answer our unspoken needs?

Charles Spurgeon had this incredible perspective:

There was no specific direction given to John to entertain Mary. It was quite enough for the Lord to call His attention to her by saying ‘Behold thy mother.’ How I wish we were always in such a state of heart that we did not need specific precepts, a hint would suffice.”

I wonder if we often dismiss God’s concern for our needs without actually bothering to get close to Him and see what He would say. We automatically decide that He must be busy caring for greater things, and we stay away like the rest of the disciples. But it’s so clear, based on Scripture and also from Spurgeon’s quote, that John had a close relationship with Jesus. Jesus didn’t have to lay out the next steps for him. Because of John’s proximity and willingness to remain present, even in the hard stuff, Jesus trusted Him and He honored him.

Easter is coming. The suffering, the grief, the waiting, the quiet, the questions, the joy and the redemption.

It’s all so much less black and white than we’ve made it. Listen. I know the world is big and hard and scary and so unfair. Jesus knows, too. But unlike the unmentioned ten disciples at the foot of the cross, we have a choice to remain. What can we gain by pressing in? What do we risk? What is the reward?

Presence and intimacy go hand in hand. Fight the urge to push down your own heartbrokenness, and allow Jesus to see you. Push through the crowd to get to the pain and the beauty of the cross, and Jesus will use you to care for those who have no one else to care for them. Resist the lie that pain and beauty are opposites. Jesus has never been one-dimensional.

This week in particular, we have the amazing privilege to remain. To acknowledge our own hurts before God; to open up our hands and allow Him to heal the pain in our personal lives as well as the overwhelming injustices of the globe. Don’t limit God’s compassion.

Because of Easter:

We have the freedom to boldly approach the throne to be fully known.

We have the benefit of letting God out of the box we’ve built and letting Him be enough for us, and for everyone else, too.

We can celebrate our hope in Jesus while we watch and wait surrounded by unfairness and injustice.

We have the ridiculous birthright of being the joy set before Him.

We look away from the natural realm and we focus our attention and expectation onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because His heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be His, He endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!

[Hebrews 12:2 TPT]

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