35 Jesus wept.
In the verses before this, after Martha’s encounter with Jesus outside the village, she returns and sends Mary out to meet Jesus because he wants to meet her. Mary goes, followed by those who were comforting her. By the time they see him, their emotions have overcome them and they are weeping inconsolably. Jesus sees this, is deeply moved in his spirit and troubled (some bible translations use other like words like “groaned” to express his response). He asks where Lazarus’ body is, and before Jesus even reaches the tomb, Jesus starts weeping too.
Why did Jesus weep? Was this not the plan? Yes it was, and it had a good/great/grand objective for people He loved. But because these people could not understand the goal was to come out on the other side with stronger faith in their God, they were going to be put through the emotional wringer. Yet, a hugely important cause does not nullify the pain He felt seeing his loved ones Lazarus, Martha and Mary suffer.
Some of us may say “God is unacceptably mean or heartless” or “Was there not another better way?” Yet, let us admit that we sometimes do the same to our loved ones who are not able to understand an important/good objective (e.g. children, siblings, parents who do not perceive what we already do) and we require them to go through a rough patch (medical treatment, make a mistake that costs them something) in order to “learn the lesson.” We do not like it, and it pains us to see them go through this, but this is the only way they will get better, they will understand after (perhaps even a long while after) they come out of the experience. When we do such a thing, do we call ourselves unacceptably mean or heartless? No, because we get it, they do not, at least not yet. Now we get a glimpse of God’s perspective.
In fact, original Greek word for “deeply moved” also contains an element of anger. Perhaps Jesus was angry at the fact death had happened in the first place to cause such sorrow. Death had come because sin had come in the days of Adam and Eve. No one would escape. Later we would see Jesus weep again, at the Garden of Gethsemane, because He knew God’s plan to solve the problem of sin and death, involved Him to be put to death wrongly and tortuously, so that all of mankind may be saved from their sin. He was going to overcome sin and death to free us (a grand purpose) at a painful cost to Himself (it really hurts). And He did it.
So let us not mistake God for being unkind or unloving to us whenever it looks that way because He has been heartless to Himself to show how valuable and precious we are to Him, and to show his kindness, grace, justice and love to us. He has made a way out of the boundaries of this world to a new life. He is the resurrection and the life. Follow Him!
(Tomorrow, we will continue looking at this incident to see how it evolves, so stay tuned.)
Thoughts for the day
- Soak in the fact that our God is a compassionate, intimate God. He feels the hurt when you are suffering, even if it has good purpose. He is not a distant God who looks down from above and says “Oh this is good for him/her and he/she will get out of it eventually.” Instead He weeps with you.
- He has been heartless to Himself to show how valuable and precious you are to Him, and to show his kindness, grace, justice and love to you. Do you get it?
Dear God and heavenly father, thank you for loving me so much. Let me remember your love when I am going through the wringer, let me keep looking towards you and remember that whatever pain I am feeling, you understand how I feel and you have not withheld yourself from the same or worse, so that I may land in a better place. So whatever the purpose of this tough experience of mine, help me to experience your compassion and make it through. Amen.