Mourning in the Experience of Jesus
It is in the person of Jesus that the fullness of this prophetic picture comes into focus. Several times in the Old Testament God speaks of His desire to have a man who would join with His heart, feeling God’s pain, and standing with Him in the ministry of intercessory prayer. If He could find such a man to share in His agony, He would relent from His judgments and release mercy instead. Therefore, when the man Jesus – perfect in obedience, intimate in relationship with God – presented Himself to the Father as the ultimate intercessor, God poured out the fullness of wrath upon His own Son and the fullness of mercy upon all who would respond to His love.
It is a profound thing to consider that God desires to have human partners who will join Him in the expression of His emotions, whether positive or negative. We can scarcely imagine a God with such emotion, let alone one who desires to share that emotion with human beings. But if we can begin to see that this is where Jesus stood, and that God’s desire is to have the same kind of relationship with us, we can begin to be open to the touch of the Holy Spirit that communicates His emotions to us.
This is precisely what was in Jesus’ mind when He asked His three best friends – Peter, James, and John – to accompany Him to Gethsemane on the night of His trial and crucifixion. Jesus was headed to the dark night of desolation and sacrifice. The experience, borne entirely in His body as a human being, was going to be desperately difficult and painful. The sufferings of Jesus would involve mourning at the deepest level as He bore the sin of humanity. Here’s the amazing reality: Jesus was looking for friends with whom He could share this mournful experience, whose partnership with Him in this dark night would strengthen Him and enable them to have courage as well.
This dimension of mourning is called “blessed” by Jesus. Those who will come into identification with His sorrows are those who will receive the most profound recompense – being comforted and rewarded by God Himself. The promise of comfort to Jesus is articulated in Isaiah 53, where the prophet declares the blessing that will come to God’s suffering servant:
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.
He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.
(Isaiah 53:10-12, NKJV)
The mourning of Jesus was precisely a fulfillment of this passage. In His humanity, Jesus presented Himself to the Father as one who would willingly share the agony of God’s heart, as well as bear the punishment due to the human race for their sin. Jesus said in effect “Father, You sought for a man to stand in the gap with you. Here I am! I will join with You, I will obey You in this, that Your heart might be comforted and satisfied.”
Isaiah’s prophetic promise over the life of Jesus is that when His soul is made an offering for sin, the pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand, and He shall be satisfied with the labor of His soul. In other words, He will be comforted by receiving the full reward of His suffering. That reward is nothing less than human beings fully redeemed from sin who are made able to live in a relationship of intimacy and shared authority with Him forever.
What Does This Mean For Us?
When you and I begin to understand this, we will see that God invites us into an experience of mourning with Him. It will have these two dimensions to it: the awareness of our own brokenness and need for healing, and the awareness of God’s heart that is in anguish for the broken of the earth. As we draw closer to Him in prayer, desiring deeper intimacy with Him as our Father and with His Son as our Bridegroom, God will touch us with this essential dimension of His will for us. We will be invited to mourn over our own condition, and to experience His emotions over the condition of His people. As we give ourselves to mourning, we can be sure that the reward of real comfort will be ours.