The gospel is the good news that can free us from guilt. We know that Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane . It’s our faith that he experienced everything- absolutely everything. Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of the belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about he suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means he knows what it was like when your mother died of cancer- how it was for you mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia . He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau . He experienced napalm in Vietnam . He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.
Let me go further. There is nothing you have experienced as a woman that he does not also know and recognize. On a profound level, he understands the hunger to hold your baby that sustains you through pregnancy. He understands both the physical pain of giving birth and the immense joy. He knows about PMS and cramps and menopause. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion. His last recorded words to his disciples were, “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. “ (Matthew 28:20) He understands your mother pain when your five year old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth grader, when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down syndrome. He knows your mother rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two year old, when someone gives your thirteen year old drugs, when someone seduces your seventeen year old. He knows that pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children are visitors, when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week, when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He’s been there. He’s been lower than all that. He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.
Jesus is the light of the world. We know that this world is a dark place sometimes, but we need not walk in darkness. The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, and the people who walk in darkness can have a bright companion. We need him, and He is ready to come to us, if we’ll open the door and let him.
Chieko N. Okazaki