When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Mt 14:13
Jesus is told by John the Baptist’s friends that he has been beheaded in a bizarre and surreal scene at Herod’s birthday party. (Check out Matthew 14:3-12 here https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+14 )
When Jesus hears this news, he goes to the mountainside to pray. Some think he left to avoid a similar fate by Herod’s men. Some say he retreated to pray to his Father; about what to do next, or perhaps concerning the care of his weary apostles, or even about feeding the 5000 disciples who had followed him.
We don’t actually know what he consulted the Father about, we are not told in scripture. But we do know that Jesus was a compassionate, caring man, every bit as human as you and me. I like to think he may have been praying out of sadness and grief over the loss of his cousin, his friend, the man who heralded his coming, John the Baptizer.
If we read too quickly, it doesn’t even occur to us that Jesus might pause to grieve. We sort of think he should just accept the death of this important person in his life and move on. Because we see the story in context of the big picture. And in hindsight, it seems like a fairly small point in the story.
But imagine it! A friend, a supporter, a disciple being murdered in this horrific way. Of course he must have grieved! Jesus was fully human. He lived like us, he felt like us, he related like us. When the bible says ‘fully human’ it means Fully. Human.
Jesus was upset, bewildered, distraught and sad – most likely. We don’t know what he felt, but those are all likely because he was fully human. We see him display very human emotions of compassion, love, and even anger at various times in his ministry.
Fully Human in the Garden
We see him in the garden of Gethsemane, nearing the end of his life on earth, where Jesus asks his Father to save him. Just as we would have done. He knows what’s coming. He knows he has to go through this terrible thing that will end his life. It has to be done. It was part of the plan and Jesus knew it. Anticipated it. Agreed to it.
But at the last moment – he asked for a reprieve. He sweated blood. He agonized. He cried out.
Of course, ultimately, he accepted that which was the agreed upon plan all along. Where would we be if he hadn’t?
But we forget that he was fully human. We forget that what Jesus went through was as hard for him as it would have been for us. We think it was easy for him because he was fully God too.
But in the dichotomy of fully God and fully human, they don’t cancel each other out. They magnify the Being of Christ.
Being God didn’t make it any easier for him to be human, than it is for us. What Jesus went through, the temptation he experienced, the isolation he felt, the fear, the loneliness…he struggled through it all so he could have the perspective, so he could know what it feels like to suffer.
So that when we struggle, when we suffer, we know he can comfort us with the comfort of someone who has been there. This is our God, communicating His great love for us. Showing us the lengths He was willing to go for us.
You see, we’ve never been through anything that Jesus can’t relate to – that he can’t pull us through, with empathy, comfort, and understanding.
And that’s why fully human is such an important part of who Jesus was.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses…Heb 4:15
…rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Ph 2:7