In an instance or two, how could he not? Jesus was after all a man and if I cannot empathize with the man in Jesus, then indeed there is no hope. I have trouble identifying with gods, so I have to start with the man. In a recent blog I suggested that Jesus might not have been a stranger to the absurd and I cited that moment on the Cross when he cried to God, “Why has thou forsaken me.?” No doubt the cry came from Jesus, not the Christ.
Because humankind has at the very least felt pain, we can imagine what those penetrating nails might have felt like. In smaller ways, both as agent and object, we known betrayal. I have never been spat upon, but even here I can imagine the humiliation. If the Christ had to “become as a man,” then that would have included knowing absurdity. To love the woman at the well required empathy so Jesus must have suffered with her. That would mean that Jesus was well on the way to empathizing with man before he was crucified. But could even Jesus have imagined how horrible his sacrifice would become?
In the mythical world before the Fall there was no sense of the absurd. The Fall is all about being plummeted into the absurd. As for the unholy despair of Existentialism, with the exception of Native Americans, Blacks and some other select groups — decidedly not white, middle-class and fortunate — I don’t believe a majority of us in our history have known what living under Nazism was like. I also don’t think we sense the anguish of all the Europeans who “capitulated.” That was the absurd at its finest. Those years in Europe only reinforced a far more tragic view of life than we Americans have. The British, an insular people like Americans, take a more optimistic view.
Steadfast and cautious,