In John Green’s book, The Fault in Our Stars (I haven’t seen the movie version yet), the main characters attend a cancer support group in the basement of a church. The meeting physically takes place in the center of a cross painted on the floor.
“We all sat in a circle right in the middle of the cross, where the two boards would have met, where the heart of Jesus would have been.”
The book’s characters mockingly call their support group meeting spot, “The Literal Heart of Jesus.”
Since Holy Week is upon us, there seems like no better time to contemplate the “literal body of Jesus.”
All year long we read and hear about Jesus’ ministry, the miracles He performed, and the message He shared. I don’t know about you, but I find myself getting rather swept up in His awesomeness and honestly forget sometimes that He was a man. A man that walked and talked and breathed and hurt and laughed and loved…just like us (or really us just like Him, since we’re made in His image).
As we walk with Jesus during Holy Week, it isn’t difficult to visualize Him as man.
Can you imagine what might have been going through His mind as He contemplated the fate He knew was close? Did He feel sadness when He was betrayed by one of His own followers? Was He afraid?
Can you imagine His head throbbing from the thorns pushed deep into His skin?
Can you imagine His face smeared with blood and sweat and spit?
Can you imagine how His arms and shoulders must have been on fire with the weight of the cross?
Can you imagine His bloody knees as they hit the ground for the third time?
Can you imagine how His legs must have been shaking, exhausted from the long journey to His death?
Can you imagine His feet breaking and bleeding as the nails were driven through them?
Can you imagine the excruciating pain in His lungs as He drew His final breath?
No, it isn’t difficult to imagine Jesus, the man, during Holy Week. His suffering (for us) was brutal and sadly easy to visualize.
As I read about “The Literal Heart of Jesus” in John Green’s book, I couldn’t help but think about how Jesus’ heart is the part of Him that might be the most difficult to visualize and understand.
Through all of the betrayal, the thorns, the spit, the beating, the cross, the crucifixion…through all of that…there was no hatred in Jesus’ heart. How is that possible?
We threaten to “kill” people when they cut us off in traffic. We “unfriend” someone when they say something that annoys us on social media. We give our spouses the silent treatment when they forget to do the chore we asked them to do five times. We yell at our children too easily. We won’t even lift our heads to acknowledge a passing stranger.
But Jesus, no. While every inch of Jesus was in human misery, He was not hating. While He hung dying on the cross, He was forgiving. That kind of unconditional love – in the midst of so much hate being shot at Him – is unfathomable. We can barely understand it as humans.
Cleary, His was the Most Sacred, most incredible heart that has even existed on earth.
As we enter into Holy Week, while we are heart broken by the pain our Lord experienced to save us, let us more so be in awe of and strive to embody His unconditional, incomprehensible love.
Wishing you a meaningful and blessed Holy Week.