Some years ago Brennan Manning spoke at Seattle Pacific University. In the opening remarks of this teaching he reflected on what he referred to as the sorrow of Jesus. The idea was that when Jesus looks at us He is sorrowful. His grief comes from our willingness to live with far less of life than Jesus intends. Our settling for a broken existence instead of an abundant life.
The sorrow of Jesus lies in our fear of Him, our fear of life, our fear of death, our fear of ourselves. The sorrow of Jesus lies in our self-absorption, our preoccupation with our own plans, pursuits, projects. In the clenching of our minds in a cramp, like somehow all this thinking made us self-sufficient.
He goes on to quote Richard Foster who wrote,
Today the heart of Jesus is an open wound of love. He aches over our distant from Him and our preoccupation with our own lives. He mourns that we don’t draw near to Him. He grieves that we’ve forgotten Him. He weeps over our obsession with much-ness and many-ness. He longs for our presence.
What brings Jesus sorrow when he looks at our lives?
Is it our hesitation to approach him after we have sinned or failed? The shame or unhealthy guilt we allow ourselves to live with? Our interest in stuff that far outweighs our interest in Him? Maybe it’s because of our preoccupation with self-sufficiency?
Our fear of the unknown? Our fear of tomorrow? Our fear at anything?
It’s so important for us to remember that the sadness of Jesus doesn’t come from His disappointment in us or His longing that we were “better” than we are. It comes from the longing He has for our presence, and His ability to see what life could be, what it should be for us.
So often when Jesus looks at us he sees what would bring us peace, and weeps that we don’t see it, that we don’t take what he is offering.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
Whatever holds us back from the full life, the peace that Jesus has for us brings him sorrow. The hope of Jesus followers does not simply lie in the someday and the “when we get to heaven,” but it lies in today; in everyday. Jesus is sorrowful when we sit on our hands, living squalid lives that lack hope and peace and assume that life starts someday, but not today. When we wait for his return or our passing and assume that life starts then. Jesus is sorrowful when we trade life for existence, relationship for products, or love for entertainment.
Jesus cries out to us all today, “If only you had known what would bring you peace…”
And the answer is Him. Only Him.