Emanuel Swedenborg, in his teachings for the New Church, eloquently emphasised a profound truth: God became manifest in Jesus so that humanity could intimately know Him as a 'person'. This truth was touched on in last week’s Minister’s Reflection. When pondering this thought, a pressing question emerges: What is it about Jesus that allows us to see Him in such a personal light? The answer, perhaps surprisingly for some, lies in His ability to express raw, unfiltered emotions.
Emotions are the very threads that weave the tapestry of our human experience. Their depth, their nuances, and their complexities allow us to connect with others, and more importantly, to connect with ourselves. They're what make us human, in the truest sense of the word. A person devoid of emotions would be seen, at best, as aloof, and at worst, as devoid of humanity, reminiscent of a sociopath. However, the Lord's portrayal in the scriptures stands in stark contrast to such a lifeless depiction.
The shortest, yet one of the most powerful verses in the Bible encapsulates this sentiment perfectly: "Jesus wept" (John 11:35). These two words, seemingly simple, carry the weight of God's immense love and compassion for humanity. Jesus didn't just shed tears; He shared in the deepest sorrows of the human heart.
Certainly, most of us can resonate with the profound pain that compels one to tears. Personal losses, struggles, and heartaches often lead us down that path. But can we claim to weep for another’s pain and loss as sincerely as for our own? Swedenborg, in "Divine Love and Wisdom," touches upon the essence of genuine love: "Feeling the joy of someone else as joy within ourselves—that is loving." However, I propose a deeper layer: it's an even higher love to take another's pain into our heart, to feel it as keenly as they do. That’s the love we witness when we read "Jesus wept."
Reflecting on my own journey, I found solace in these very words over four decades ago, during one of the darkest periods of my life. Grieving the tragic loss of my older brother to suicide, I was searching for meaning, for understanding, for a flicker of hope amidst overwhelming despair. In "Jesus wept," I didn't just read a verse; I felt a presence. I felt the Lord's intimate understanding of not only my pain but that of my brother and my entire family. It was a revelation: the divine wasn't distant or abstract. God was right there, walking beside me, feeling every tremor of my heart.
This understanding changed my life. The Lord became more than just a higher power or a distant deity. He became a personal guide, a trusted teacher, a compassionate friend. He became someone I could lean on, confide in, and turn to for wisdom and guidance.
From a New Church perspective, this is the beautiful reality Swedenborg wanted us to recognise. God, manifest in the natural world as Jesus, bridged the vast chasm between the divine and the human, not by showcasing mere power or miracles, but by displaying the purest emotions. It was a love so deep, so encompassing, that it could cry for our sorrows.
"Jesus wept" is more than a biblical verse. It’s an invitation to recognise the profound depth of the Lord’s love for us. It's a call to connect with the divine, not just through rituals or doctrines, but through the shared experiences of our human journey. In those tears, we find the true essence of the New Church’s teachings: a God who loves, understands, and walks beside us, every step of the way.
“On our own we are constantly falling but the Lord is constantly putting us on our feet again” (Arcana Caelestia 8391)