“After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me’” (John 13:21).
There is a large wood carving of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper on the front wall of the chapel in the ALSAC Danny Thomas Pavilion at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. A few years ago, on a Tuesday afternoon, after donating blood at St. Jude, I went into the chapel for quiet time and to pray. I sat in front of this beautiful carving. Da Vinci, in his painting, portrays the varied emotions of the twelve disciples as they hear and react to Jesus’ shocking words that one of them was going to betray him.
In the carving, unlike Da Vinci’s original mural, the eyes of Jesus are looking up. On that Tuesday afternoon as I looked at Jesus, his eyes focused upward, the sorrowful and troubled spirit of Jesus seemed all the more evident.
When the supper was finished and Judas had gone out to betray Jesus, Jesus and the other disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane. Matthew records in his gospel that Jesus “began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death’” (Matthew 26:37-38). The translations vary some. Jesus “began to be sorrowful and very heavy,” “began to be grieved and distressed,” “began to be in terrible distress and misery.” “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful,” “My soul is deeply grieved,” “My heart is nearly breaking.” Such human emotion of pain and of grief.
My eyes and heart focused on Jesus in that carving of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. I was reminded that our faith is not in a Savior, a God, who is so transcendent, so far away, from our human reality. Our faith is in a Savior, a God, who shared in our humanity. He suffered as we suffer. He experienced death as we have experienced death of loved ones and will ourselves experience. His emotional and physical suffering experienced that Thursday night before his death, his death on Friday, Jesus is a compassionate and loving Savior. For he knows personally the sorrows, suffering, and grief we face. He understands our hearts, our pain, our emotions, and our grief. Jesus is able and is there for us.