He Knows . . . He Understands

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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

When I was a teenager – I remember thinking that absolutely – positively no one else on the entire planet could understand what I was going through. I was convinced no one understood me. For a several years I was the poster child of teenage angst.

I wrote really, really incredibly, awful poetry. I rhymed words like sad and nomad and hark and disembark. And sometimes my poetry was so beautiful – it even moved me to tears!

I listened to melodramatic music about being misunderstood by the rest of the world. I read books that were so bleak and depressing – they could have made Pollyanna feel blue. I sighed heavily and often. I worked very hard at looking bored and miserable all of the time. I wore a lot of flannel and denim. And generally felt sorry for my misunderstood self.

On occasion a loving – compassionate adult would try to explain to me – that she might just have some small understanding of what I was going through. That she loved me and she could remember what it was like to be my age. That she had been where I was and survived it. But I just didn’t believe her.

There was simply no way – my youth group leader or my teacher or my boss from the library with her grown-up – pulled together life – could understand what it was like to have seriously bad hair or mean friends or too much homework. There was no way she could understand the pain caused by bossy teachers and clueless boys. And I doubted she had ever found French, Chemistry, or Geometry dumbfounding like I so often did.

I spent years firmly believing that no one could understand me – except perhaps – the Indigo Girls – Charles Dickens and Dylan Thomas.

Have you ever felt misunderstood? Have you ever felt like no one understood what you were thinking and feeling? That no one else got it?

I think there are times in all of our lives when we find ourselves feeling like this.

There are times when we wish our heartless math teacher could understand just how completely and utterly confusing math can be for some people.

There are times when you desperately wish your demanding boss would finally understand you are a dedicated employee and you do work really hard.

There are days when you wish that your landlord would understand you really are trying to get him all of this month’s rent – but you have been laid off like so many other folks right now. You are trying desperately to make ends meet with a lot less income.

Or perhaps you may find yourself wishing your mom would actually get that you aren’t wasting your life watching You-Tube videos or gaming. Or that your Dad would finally get that texting your friends is honestly incredibly important – especially now that you don’t get to see each other at school (SOCIAL DISTANCING)!

Or you might wish that your husband would understand that when he teases you about social distancing it hurts you – because you believe taking the doctors’ advice seriously is the right thing to do.

There are times in all of our lives when we all find ourselves wishing that other folks could walk a mile or two hundred in our shoes. We long for empathy, and just to be understood by someone else.

Well – let me assure you – someone else does get it. Someone understands. Someone really does care. Someone else has walked a mile in your shoes. Your Lord and Savior understands. Jesus gets it. Jesus knows how you feel – and what you are going through. Jesus has been there and felt that. Jesus has walked in your very human shoes.

In our Gospel reading for this week Jesus began his week by learning that his beloved friend Lazarus is ill. Then just 48 hours later – the news arrives that Lazarus has died.

Lazarus is dead.

Lazarus had been a young man. His death came suddenly. Almost out of the blue. After a short illness. With so little warning and very little time for his beloved friends and family prepare themselves. Lazarus’ death was a horrible – devastating blow to his loved ones. They were left reeling.

Jesus was devastated too. Lazarus had been a special friend to Jesus. Lazarus and his sisters – Mary and Martha – had welcomed Jesus into their home. Jesus had eaten meals with Lazarus. Jesus had slept under his roof. They had enjoyed great theological discussions and good food together. Lazarus’ home had been a safe haven for Jesus in an often harsh world. Lazarus’ friendship and support had been a comfort and a joy to Jesus.

And now – Lazarus is dead. Cut down by illness in the prime of his life.

As soon as – Jesus learns Lazarus has died – Jesus and the disciples set off for Bethany.

As they draw close to Bethany – Lazarus’ sisters Martha and Mary hurry out to meet Jesus. Their hearts are broken – because they loved their brother so deeply. When Jesus sees his beloved friends’ grief and their tears – Jesus is overtaken by his own grief and he begins to weep.

Jesus wept. Jesus – who is God. Jesus – who is our Lord and Savior – weeps when his beloved friend dies. Jesus did not pretend to cry like an actor does in a movie. Jesus did not preach a sermon about how no one should be sad because death isn’t eternal for those who believe that Jesus is their Lord and Savior. Jesus didn’t tell the assembled mourners to put on happy faces and keep the faith. Rather – our Lord and Savior – cried.

Jesus wept because his beloved friend was dead. Jesus cried because death is sad. Jesus wept because grief makes us feel like crying. Jesus cried because he is a human being just like us and his friend’s death caused his heart to ache.

Jesus Christ was really and truly a human being. He wasn’t just pretending to be a human being.

Jesus Christ is both God and human – and because of this Jesus understands what you are going through. Jesus knows what it is like to be one of us.

Jesus knows what it is like to be hungry and tired. Because he got tired and hungry too.

Jesus knows what it is like to be misunderstood. Think of all of the times that the disciples just didn’t understand what Jesus was telling them.

Jesus knows what it is like to have people criticize you and judge you and to say hurtful things about you. Think of how badly the Pharisees treated Jesus.

He knows what it is like to be sad or frustrated or happy or grieving or anxious. Jesus has felt all of these emotions too.

Jesus knows what it is like to be tempted.

Jesus knows what it is like to stub his toe.

Jesus knows what it is like to get sick and feel rotten.

Jesus also knows the fun of spending time with friends and family. And he knows what it is like to miss those same friends when life separates you for a while.

Jesus knows what it means to love and he knows what it means to mourn when loved ones die.

Jesus even knows what it is like to feel afraid and alone in the world. Think of how the disciples all abandoned him as he died on the cross.

Jesus really and truly does know what it is like to be a human being. Jesus has walked a mile in your shoes. In fact Jesus has walked thousands of miles in your shoes.
Our Lord and Savior understands your joys and your trials and tribulations. Jesus doesn’t just imagine what you are going through. Jesus actually knows what it is like. Jesus understands and Jesus cares.

Cross from the Templo de San Bernardino and the adjacent Convent of Sisal in Valladolid, Mexico

So when you feel all alone – know this – your Lord and Savior really and truly does understand. Jesus gets it. Jesus cares and Jesus loves you. Truly this is Good News. AMEN.

2 Replies to “He Knows . . . He Understands”

  1. Excellent message Pastor. It is comforting to know Jesus suffered many of the same emotions and doubts we suffer. He knew what we know, our God is a gracious and compassionate God and will not leave us alone. Thanks

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I miss talking scripture over coffee in the fellowship hall so much!

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