Have you ever watched the 1999 movie, The Green Mile? The movie stars actor Tom Hanks who plays a death row corrections officer, Paul Edgecomb. But one of the story’s other notable characters in John Coffey. John is a huge man who towers over everyone. And he’s built like a tank.
Now, to look at John Coffey, you’d think he’s a very dangerous man. And since he’s been convicted of murder, that assumption makes perfect sense.
But John Coffey is no murderer. As the story unfolds we learn that John Coffey isn’t even capable of murder. But don’t get the wrong idea. It’s not because John lacks the physical strength to kill. John Coffey could kill an army if he wanted to. No, the reason Coffey’s incapable of murder is because he’s a complete empath. He’s got a heart as big as a house. And he feels the pain of everyone. If John Coffey hurt anyone, he’d feel the pain himself – and be tortured with remorse. It is John’s compassion, love, and tender heart that restrains him from hurting anyone.
In fact, in the movie John Coffey not only feels the suffering of everyone. He has the ability to take away their illnesses. But to do so Coffey must bring the sickness upon himself and then, as quickly as possible, spew it out of his own body. Therefore, each of these healings leaves John broken and exhausted. Yes, this whole business of feeling everyone else’s pain and taking it onto himself is like carrying a dump truck on his back. It’s draining, even for a powerful man like John Coffey.
Of course, John’s conviction of murdering two little girls is a travesty of justice. He’s not only an innocent man. He’s a supremely good man because he blesses so many people. To the corrections officers who guard him and know of his healing powers, executing John is a terrible tragedy. And they cannot bring themselves to do it. Our bleeding world desperately needs people like John Coffey.
But on the day of his execution, John explains to the sorrowful guards that he welcomes death. For he cannot bear the pain of the world any longer. All the cruelty, all the pain, and all the injustices are like broken glass grinding away in his head, relentlessly.
Think for a moment about John Coffey. Multiply him by a factor of infinity, and you have a picture of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures explain emphatically that Jesus “bore our pains and carried away our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:17), as well as our sins (1 Peter 2:24).
And it was painful for Him to do so. Remember the woman who crept up behind Jesus and touched the hem of His garment to be healed (Luke 8:43-48)? How did Jesus know that she was healed? It was because He felt power leave His body (Luke 8:46; also Luke 6:19). Carrying the pains, sicknesses, and diseases of others was costly to Jesus.
And it continues to be so. For the Scripture tells how Jesus is afflicted with all our afflictions (Isaiah 63:9) and He is “touched” by the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15; 5:8). It’s as if the nervous system of every human being is connected with Christ’s. Whatever we suffer, Jesus suffers it also.
In fact, as John Coffey suffered the pain of those around him, Jesus endures all the suffering, agony, and injustices of the whole human race – throughout all ages.
How does this feel? You may already have a good idea. Do you ever watch the news on television or listen to all the media’s garbage on the radio? Do you do so in hope of hearing some good news of justice being served and good deeds being rewarded? Maybe. But I’m sure you always come away disappointed and disgusted. It’s painful to listen to the news. The news is nothing but a parade of injustices – of child abuse, sexual assault, murder, rioting, and looting. It’s painful and sickening to the soul. It’s like “broken glass” grinding away in our heads and hearts.
If that’s how you feel, then you have a tiny glimpse into the heart of Jesus Christ. For He sees it all and feels it all. All the agony of humanity constantly flows into the heart and mind of Christ.
Fortunately, Jesus Christ is all-powerful (Matthew 28:18) and all this pain does not destroy Him. But don’t ever let it escape your notice that when you suffer, you never suffer alone. Jesus is right there with you, enduring the pain with you, taking away your grief and leaving healing and peace in its place.
So draw near to Jesus. Though He is almighty, He is also all-loving. And there is no hurt that does not hurt Him also. There’s no pain that doesn’t pain Him just as much. Therefore, we have Someone in heaven who knows exactly how we feel and there’s healing, peace and blessing in His embrace. If you’re hurting, please flee into His arms and find rest. “Come unto Me,” Jesus said, “all of you who are tired and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest … for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, into Your loving arms I fall. Please forgive me, heal me, and fill me with Your peace and joy. Thank You, Lord, that through all those painful seasons of my life, You were right there with me, feeling and bearing my agony. I didn’t understand it at the time, but Your heart was going out to me, grieving for over my pain. Lord Jesus, please open my eyes to see and understand the love You have for me, so that running into Your embrace will be my first response instead of my last resort. Amen.
(Information from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Green_Mile_(film))