Today’s blog is part two in a series of three short articles discussing the importance of facing and sharing the contents of the shadow-self in honest prayer.
Yesterday’s blog (https://wp.me/p45bCr-dXu), was personal, but today’s will focus on how Jesus faced and expressed his shadow, both with God, and with people. We can have no better example than his.
Temptation (Matthew 4:1-11; NLT)
During the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness, his shadow-self is represented as a being who tempts him to go against his conscience by disobeying God.
These accounts show plainly that even Christ suffered from temptation. Like us, he had to wrestle with, resist, and overcome, his seductive fantasies and impulses. He needed to do this in order to face the huge personal sacrifices his ministry would require of him:
We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin (Hebrews 4:15; NIV).
Irritation (Luke 9:37-43; NLT)
At times, Jesus became exasperated, both with his followers, and with the Scribes and Pharisees. For example, when his disciples were unable to heal a boy suffering from epilepsy, Jesus became frustrated and irritated. Instead of concealing how he felt, he spoke to them very directly and honestly:
You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you and put up with you? (Luke 9:41; NLT).
Then, having expressed how he felt, he healed the boy, and gave him back to his father.
Anger (John 2:13-17; NLT)
When Jesus saw the established corruption and exploitation taking place in the Temple at Jerusalem he was filled with anger. He purposefully made a whip, using it to drive the merchants and money-changers out of the temple. Chaos resulted as he overturned their stalls, scattered their takings, and chased away their sacrificial animals, whilst crying out:
Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace! (John 2:13-16; NLT).
Anger, whether righteous or otherwise, is part of everyone’s shadow, however much we might prefer to deny and suppress it.
Grief (John 11:1-45; NLT)
When Jesus heard that his friend was very sick, he delayed visiting him and his sisters. Two days later, knowing that Lazarus had died, he set off to their house. There he experienced the anger and tears which so often characterise human grief. It’s inspiring to see Jesus’ human emotions shared so openly to those around him:
When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled (John 11:33; NLT).
Then Jesus wept (John 11:36; NLT).
Fear (Matthew 26:36-46; NLT)
After the Last Supper, Jesus went with his disciples to an olive grove to pray. Overwhelmed by the profound fear rising from his shadow, he could not conceal his anguish. Realising what he was about to undergo, he begged God to take his suffering away.
I find it oddly reassuring to know that even Jesus experienced and expressed dread, longing for it to be taken away. At Gethsemane, as always, his prayers were absolutely direct, unembellished by flowery language, honest, short and to the point:
He became anguished and distressed (Matthew 26:37; NLT).
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39; NLT).
He was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood (Luke 22:44; NLT).
Examining Jesus shadow-side has been a significant challenge for me, but I want to learn from him:
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me (Matthew 11:29; NIV).
Tomorrow I hope to draw some conclusions from this short series on honest prayer.