Twice. Jesus sighed twice. At least, that’s what Mark said (7:34, 8:12). Maybe the other disciples were just embarrassed to write about the times Jesus had to shake his head at them and sigh. Maybe there wasn’t a good Greek expression for “palm to the forehead.”
Anyway, the point is that Mark tells us about two different times Jesus sighed, and I’m glad Mark took the time to write that down. I need to know that Jesus sighed. I need to know that sometimes the Savior of the World looked at the world He was dealing with and sighed.
To me, a sigh comes from that deep place where the words can’t go or come. And for some of us, that’s an awfully deep place. I have words – lots and lots of words – for almost all of the things in all of the times. But sometimes, there are no words, only sighs. Or, at least, no words that can be found until a sigh pushes us back up to the place where words live. Sighs fill the space where our frustration or our anxiety or our anguish needs a voice that can’t be understood, only felt.
I like that Jesus sighed. It means he gets my sighs.
It’s also important that Jesus only sighed twice (that we know about). He had plenty of opportunities where he could have sighed more. The disciples and the Pharisees and the siblings and the parents (remember Mary pestering him at that wedding) – they tried Jesus’s patience. They pushed his buttons – he was fully human, so we know he had buttons. He could have spent a lot of time feeling frustrated and sighing, but he didn’t. He kept pursuing, kept explaining, kept being patient.
Sighs can be abused, much like eye-rolling. Jesus lack of sighing means he really cared about people; stubborn, frustrating people like me. He didn’t just show up with an agenda of things for us to do and understand. That’s where my sighing often comes in – when I just need my kids to cooperate and for things to go smoothly for a change. And by smoothly, of course, I mean for things to go my way.
Jesus showed up to love us and care about us. He didn’t just need us to understand. Jesus wanted us to understand. He showed us again. He told us again. He looked for different ways to explain. He didn’t just sigh.
It’s both – the sighing and the not sighing. It’s the knowing we have space to sigh and be understood and feel what we feel, and also knowing that we need to check our motives from time to time. When sighing becomes our default, it’s time to be still, spend time bringing our wordless sighs to God so He can bring us back to the place of caring for and loving the people around us.
That’s all I’ve got for now.