Lazarus

Now when Mary came to the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the people who had come with her weeping, he was intensely moved in spirit and greatly distressed. He asked, “Where have you laid him?” They replied, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. Thus the people who had come to mourn said, “Look how much he loved him!” But some of them said, “This is the man who caused the blind man to see! Couldn’t he have done something to keep Lazarus from dying?”

Jesus, intensely moved again, came to the tomb. (Now it was a cave, and a stone was placed across it.)
John 11:32-38

Sometimes we imagine Jesus to be entirely task oriented and without feeling. After all, He seldom talks about the way He feels about healing people and performing miracles. When Jesus heals, He heals. Just straight down to business, heal, small conversation after, and thats all. What we don’t get directly is what He feels inside. The bible records only a handful of emotions that Jesus feels – angry and sad, the rest are often implied and not recorded by the writer.

In the death of Lazarus, Jesus’ emotions are recorded explicitly:

  1. intensely moved in spirit and greatly distressed” when He saw Mary and the rest of the people weeping
  2. “intensely moved again” when He faced the tomb where Lazarus was laid

And in between, we are told that “Jesus wept”. 

What is going on with our Jesus? He, who has the power to heal the sick, restore sight to the blind, make the lame to walk and raise the dead, is at this moment overwhelmed with grief. The problem isn’t with Jesus, the problem is with our perception. We often forget that Jesus is also 100% human (as well as 100% God). He feels exactly how a human would feel. He is entitled to feel sadness and a sense of loss. With His humanity, Jesus identifies with the feelings that we are bombarded with when we deal with death. In Jesus, we see the most natural part of grief – crying. He is every bit human, just like us. He feels every bit human, just as we do.

It is important not to skip past this understanding. Jesus didn’t cry because He couldn’t anything but because He felt grief. He was saddened by a death of someone close to Him (John 11:3,5). His cry wasn’t a show of weakness, it was a response to the “great distress” He felt. Should He have not felt sad at all, since He was going to raise Lazarus up anyway? Well, that isn’t the point. The point is that Lazarus had succumbed to the plight that all men will one day suffer from. Although it says that Lazarus was ill (John 11:1) and therefore died because of the illness, that was not the source of the problem. This was the result of sin (Genesis 3:19). Jesus heart broke for those who are plagued by sin – like Lazarus.

Jesus’ heart for humanity is deep. He cried for the sin that cost us our lives. Do I have such a heart for humanity? Or even for my closest friends? And if I do, what can be more important than to save them?

Father, give me a heart that grieves for us who sin and deserve death – all of us. I am thankful that through you, death is no longer an end, but a transition. Yet I know that bereavement still happens and I thank you for grieving. I ask that your comfort will be with those who grieve for the loss of their loved ones. I thank you that you showed us that crying is ok, if its ok for an almighty God, it is ok for a grown man. I pray that with each reminder of the frailty of our life on earth, we would also be reminded of the only way to eternal life. I pray that we would be vessels for others to know you before it is too late.

Amen.

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