Love and Sorrow Meet

“Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him.  And he said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Come here.’ And he said to them, ‘Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?’ But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.” Mark 3:1-6

Much emotion is packed into this small paragraph of the divine Word, spilling over in drops of love, compassion, malice, and anger. Jesus embodies exquisitely the pathos He created, exhibiting a soft heart toward the marginalized and righteous anger toward the hard-hearted. Every bit of energy, feeling, and thought is enfolded in omniscience and flows in harmonious balance. He and His always win.

The maimed one could have been lost in the synagogue crowd, but Jesus saw him, and beckoned him near. While the religious ones sneered and plotted from the fringes, the needy one had eyes hungry only for this Savior, this Healer (dare I hope?), and ventured forth. The castigators kept their distance, so myopic in their condemning they couldn’t decipher good from harm. After all, a reasonable answer might upend their mission to do away with this Sabbath-breaker.

And Jesus? His love and holy goodness flooded out, overwhelming- but not negating or canceling- His proper grief at sin’s decay and fury at its effects. Each emotion was perfectly measured, resulting in one healed and whole, and others condemned to their due. Jesus is the Supreme Arbiter, the holy standard, the splendid display of righteousness and purity in every feeling. He is the epitome of the mysterious unity of wrath and mercy. (John 8:24)

“See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown? ” ~Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Consider the emoting of Jesus, compelling Him toward and so beautifully culminating in the cross, and ask, how do I compare? Whence comes my sorrow? From frustration at interrupted plans or failed self-promoting efforts? Or am I truly grieved at others’ painful misfortunes, broken relationships, and the hopelessness of those eternally lost? Does anger rage from disagreements with others, imposed restrictions, or sin’s painful but deserved consequences? Or is my anger like Christ’s, under control, but an upright response to injustice, unrighteousness, immorality, or religious persecution? In what situations and under what circumstances do I let my emotions spew out of control, to the disparagement of other image-bearers and the dishonor of my Lord? (Matthew 21:12-13)

When we find our passions whipping us into a frenzy, would we slide into the sanctuary and watch for Jesus? When we draw near, He steadies our withered emotions and heals with tenderest love.

Lord, teach me Your view of things. Rule my interior impulses and exterior expressions, that every emotion reflects Your loveliness, to the honor of Your nature and name.

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