Then He (Jesus) said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with Me." And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Matthew 26:38-39
Dorothy Lee's husband of 40 years died while they were driving home from a Bible study.
He nodded a few times and then his head fell upon his chest. Ms. Lee was able to avoid a crash, call 911, and watch as the ambulance arrived and the paramedics worked to save her husband.
He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Then, a few minutes later, Ms. Lee's heart seemed to start causing her difficulty. She complained of sharp pains in her chest; she said she felt faint and then passed out.
The doctors studied her. They sent her through a battery of tests and found nothing amiss. Her arteries were clear; there was no trace of a blood clot. She hadn't had a heart attack.
So what happened? Dorothy Lee almost died of a broken heart.
Yes, really. There is such a thing. A broken heart isn't just some poetic turn of phrase.
Those who study such things know that real, sometimes fatal, changes, can happen to a heart after a traumatic breakup or after the death of a loved one. If that's the case, it would explain why ministers see seemingly healthy spouses die soon after the passing of a loved one.
When I first read that article in the Wall Street Journal, it got me wondering, "Did Jesus die of a broken heart?" If anyone had a right to die of sadness it was Jesus. The people He had come to save had rejected Him, renounced Him, and rebelled against His words. One of His closest friends betrayed Him; one denied Him; the others deserted Him.
Did Jesus die of a broken heart? Of course not.
Scripture tells us the Savior willingly "gave up His Spirit" (John 19:30b). In John 10, Jesus said that nobody would take His life. On the contrary, He predicted that when death came calling on Calvary's cross it would succeed because He was willingly laying down His life to save the sheep.
Did Jesus die of a broken heart? No, He died because His heart was so full of love He gladly gave His life for ours.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, nobody shows a greater love than when he lays down his life for another. If that is so -- and it is -- what kind of love did Jesus have? He gave up His life for those who hated Him, rejected Him, murdered Him. Because of what Jesus has done, may my heart be made new and clean and appreciative. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries