I woke up this morning troubled by many things: some are just wisps of bad dreams in the night, but others I must face.
I turned, as is my habit, to the Scriptures of Morning Prayer
“Jesus was deeply troubled” jumped out at me.
What does it mean to be troubled?
The word is tarássō in Greek. “To trouble” means to shake up something that should be still; to cause agitation; to get too stirred up inside. Not only do I feel like that, I recognize the word from the part of John’s gospel we’re reading as we approach the days of Christ’s Passion:
- Jesus is “deeply moved in spirit and troubled” at Mary of Bethany’s grief over Lazarus (Jn 11:33, see too vs. 38).
- After his triumphal entry, his soul is “troubled” when he spoke of the need for those who love him, to follow him in death (Jn 12:27).
- Then on Holy Thursday, he is “troubled in spirit” knowing Judas will betray him (Jn 13:21).
All this agitation in the span of three chapters. It strikes me that Jesus knows. He knows what it means to be troubled by sadness and evil. He knows the pain of unbelief and betrayal and death. He knows what that does to the soul. He knows.
To be or not to be? … troubled, that is
Which is why it’s beautiful to see how Jesus uses the word next. After telling Peter he would deny him three times, which must certainly have troubled his soul, Jesus says
“Let not your hearts be troubled” (Jn 14:1).
Then, after saying he must leave:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (Jn 14:27).
I think again of how Jesus slept through the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Now that’s the kind of peace I want. Inner peace that is not troubled (shaken, agitated, stirred up) by turmoil on on the outside.
Jesus gives us his peace
Peace I leave with you, he said; my peace I give you. A peace that in spite of trouble, rests in trust.
“Jesus was deeply troubled.” He knows all of our troubles. It’s why he went to the Cross and left us with peace.
Come Into the Word with Me…
Last Sunday, we entered Jerusalem with Christ and (virtually!) waved palm branches in royal welcome. All this week, we walk with him toward the Cross. Spend time with him in John’s gospel, starting with 12:20 (right after the Triumphal Entry). Soak in the Lord’s final words, particularly those between that and his betrayal, and take them to heart. What do you hear? I’d love to know.
© 2020 Sarah Christmyer
 I use Magnificat magazine for this, and recommend it highly for prayerful reflection! They’re offering complimentary web access during this time of shelter-in-place, so you can check it out if you aren’t familiar with it.