Hans Krause, a minister from Finland, tells a riveting story about the time when a group of theological students was attending a training seminar on pastoral counseling.
One of the members shared some of her childhood experiences that had recently come to the surface. For years on end, she had been sexually abused by a close relative, and there had been nobody to help her.
Hans remembers how everyone listened with deep sympathy to her as she unraveled her experiences and feelings, sobbing, and stammering. Most were dead silent, not knowing what to say or do.
The woman sitting next to her gave her a tight hug, sharing in her tears. Then a couple of students tried to offer some words of comfort. One said something like, “I can imagine what you must have been going through. Another added something like, “I know how you must feel right now.”
Suddenly the young woman jumped up from her seat and shouted, “No, you don’t know how I feel right now! You cannot imagine what hell I have been going through unless you have been going through the same hell!”
It’s a vivid reminder that while we can try to empathize and sympathize with others, we can’t really know what they’re feeling. We can’t get inside their mind and know their thoughts.
Our Bible reading today in John 18 is the account of Jesus’ arrest. Guards were approaching bearing torches, lanterns, and weapons. Judas would plant a kiss of betrayal on Jesus’ cheek. A kangaroo court of a trial would ensue. A crown of thorns thrust into His scalp. There would be ridicule. Accusations. Lies. Spitting. And a beating so severe that many men died from it. Finally, Jesus would be nailed to the cross and die a humiliating, excruciating death.
But Jesus knew all of this already. John says so.
“Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’” (Jn 18:4)
Earlier at the Passover supper, John recorded that “Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father” (Jn. 13:1).
Then later on the cross as He was about to breathe His last breath, John writes, “Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled…” (Jn 19:28).
Personally, I’m glad that I don’t know the future. Or how I’m going to suffer and die. I don’t want to know everyone’s thoughts. Or the outcome of every event. For one thing, I might not be able to handle the pressure of knowing. Plus there are some things I’d rather be a surprise.
But Jesus is the Son of God and He knows.
…When we’re hurting.
…The sorrow we feel.
…The rejection we endure
…The struggles we endure.
…The pain we suffer.
…The obstacles we encounter.
…The loss we mourn.
It’s also important to remember that Jesus knows…
…When our hearts are not right with God.
…The hate we feel toward our fellow man.
…The lie we told yesterday.
…The internet site we accessed when no one was looking.
…The movie we watched after putting the kids to bed.
…The lustful thoughts about a woman we saw walking down the street.
…The envy and jealously we harbor toward others.
But, I’m also thankful that Jesus knows…
…When my heart is sorry for my sins…
…The remorse I feel.
…The desire I have to do better. And be better.
…The prayer I pray seeking forgiveness.
…The faith I have in His Word.
…The willingness I possess to serve Him.
…The hope that I hold for heaven to be my home.
Aren’t you glad He does?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman