One of the great wrestles of my faith is the belief that Jesus came to this world as both fully God and fully man. I believe it, but it is one of the pieces of the Gospel that requires me to fully rely on faith, for my brain will never wrap around it.
I have spent much of my life believing that my anxiety is a sin. That, because Jesus tells me not to worry and have faith, when I become anxious, it is because of my lack of faith. And yet, didn’t Jesus, being fully man, experience anxiety in his body like so few men ever have before?
I grew up thinking (and I point a finger at no one because I fear it may be a belief I came to on my own) that when we read of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and sweating drops of blood, it was a metaphor. And yet, as an adult, I have learned of a medical condition where the body goes into such extreme anxiety that the brain releases chemicals, causing the capillaries to break down the sweat glands. This wouldn’t allow for rushing of blood, dripping down his brow, but small droplets. Sweat, tinged with blood.
My Lord, being fully God, knew the suffering he was about to face, being fully man. His body, acted as a human body created by God, should do, to relieve pressure.
When I am told Jesus faced every hardship, temptation, suffering that man could face, I am sometimes tempted to think that couldn’t possibly be true. And yet, here is proof that he did. I am never alone in my suffering. While our circumstances differ in many ways, Jesus faced grief, betrayal, abuse, abandonment, and the worst anxiety one could experience.
As much comfort as I take in knowing that Jesus was fully man, it is that he is fully God that brings me the most relief. Being fully God, knowing what he was about to face, feeling the anxiety in his body, he still allowed guards to take him into custody. He still stood before a mock trial. He still took a sentence of a criminal when he had never committed a single sin. He allowed his body to be whipped, tortured, and nailed to a cross. All this because his love for me was so great.
Jesus, fully man and fully God, faced sin and death, looked them in the face, and conquered them.
None of this excuses me to wallow in worry or fret. No; what this does is allow me to go to Jesus and hand over my worries, because he has already conquered them. It allows me to trust that he sees the bigger picture, knows what is to come, and that I am held in his hands.
And it frees me from shame when my body acts in a fight or flight reaction, when adrenaline releases and I shake, when my chest clinches tight in anxiety so great I think I might die. Because this body, a body made by God, a body that functions like my Lord Jesus’ body, knows what to do to warn me of impending danger, relieve pressure, and remind me to call on God to give me peace.
In fact, everything about Jesus’ death and resurrection frees me from shame. He took all my sin to the cross – the sins I have committed and the sins committed against me. When Jesus looks at me, he doesn’t see my wrongdoings, my scars, my history. Jesus looks at me and sees that I have been washed clean by the blood of his wounds. He sees me as a precious, whole, beautiful child of God. Fully forgiven.