“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” (Matthew 11:17) In other words, you didn’t fully experience life. You didn’t enter into the moment. You didn’t live with expression. You didn’t let the full extent of the human experience touch you. Oh, you felt a flutter when you heard the flute, and a certain sadness when you heard the dirge, but you didn’t let it become yours. You didn’t enter in. You held back. You kept life at arm’s length.
Jesus sanctioned celebration. He also sanctioned mourning. He Himself wept at the tomb of Lazarus, even when He knew He was going to raise him from the dead. He entered into the sadness of the people; He felt their desperation at the loss of life — their utter helplessness at the door of death. Those were the tears of empathy, but in order to do that — in order to share that emotion with the people there — He had to enter into it Himself, and He could do that because He was fully human.
Jesus wants us to live life to the fullest. He does not want us to be ruled by our emotions — that’s not healthy for anyone — but He does want us to experience the full extent of our emotions. He wants us to be fully human. He was. He was fully God and fully man.
There are at least two reasons for this. One, He wants us to live life as it was intended, and two, we need to be in the ebb and flow of life in order to identify and connect with those around us. If we don’t dance with the flute or mourn with the dirge, how can we ever expect to connect with those who are? We would be aloof, distant, not even human — more like a machine. Since we are here to receive God’s grace and give it out to others, it is necessary that we do this as people who are touched by the same things that touch everyone.
On another occasion, Jesus said, “I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:9-10). There you have it: a rich and satisfying life, or as you may have learned it — an abundant life.
The picture here is generous, expressive — larger than life. Once we are in the kingdom of God through the proper gate, which is Jesus, we are free to come and go and find nourishment (because the kingdom of God is everywhere) and we can live a rich and satisfying life, that is, a fully human life. That is what Jesus wants for us. Why would we settle for anything less?