Many of you know the story of Lazarus and his family and how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. It was a miracle. I like to think about being there in the moment that Lazarus walked out of the tomb! You may recall the story.
Lazarus was sick and his family called upon Jesus to come to their home to be with them. They expected Jesus to start his travel to them immediately. Keep in mind that traveling from town to town was often a multiple day trip. Instead, Jesus and his disciples stayed where they were for two more days; then they left to see Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters.
When he arrived, Lazarus had been dead for 4 days and was buried in the tomb. Martha meets Jesus first and in her grief says “if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (V. 21). In other words, where were you! When Lazarus’ other sister, Mary heard that Jesus was coming, she got up quickly from her home, followed by the Jews who were mourning with her at her house, and went to find Jesus. “ When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died ” (V. 35). You can almost hear the anguish in her question.
When Jesus saw Mary and the Jews crying, he asked to go to the tomb. Jesus knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead but he saw the deep, guttural grief of this family and felt the grief of losing his friend, Lazarus. We all know that grief…the grief that we can’t finds words to describe. So, our wonderful Savior fully God and fully human did one of the most human things we all do: “Jesus wept” (V.35). John 11:35 is the shortest verse and arguably one of the most profound.
It’s in this verse that Jesus becomes the most like us. Jesus assures us that he feels our grief…that it matters to him…that he will sit with us in it, even though he knows full well that he will raise us up out of it. Jesus, who conquered all sin and death loves each of us so much that he is willing to meet us in any place of pain and be WITH us.
I had a friend who was profoundly abused. I still cry when I think about how much she struggled and how much the abuse impacted her life, especially her faith. She longed for a relationship with God but was terrified of the idea of him. However, she understood Jesus. On some level, she trusted him. I asked her once what was her favorite phrase in the Bible, she told me it was “Jesus wept.” When I asked her why she told me that it’s because it reassures her that Jesus wasn’t scary and that he understood her pain. Her heart’s cry has always been to be understood. “Jesus wept.”
Another important point to note here is the next line: “Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him ” (V.36). The Jews who had followed Mary noticed how much Jesus loved Lazarus because of his outpouring of tears. They noticed this love before Jesus performed the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead. They noticed his LOVE before the miracle.
Many of us in the past few months have had profound moments of grief as we’ve lost husbands, brothers, wives, sisters, fathers and mothers and others. In the past few weeks, many of us grieve for our fellow Americans as life is lost. We all grieve. We all weep.
Imagine if each of us, loved that deeply. So that as we sit with each other, people look at us and say…”LOOK HOW THEY LOVE EACH OTHER!” Imagine if each of us sat with each other in our greatest times of grief and simply wept. How can we be Jesus’ hands and feet to each other.
May we truly be a people who can be Jesus in street clothes to each other and our community so that they will know us by HIS love. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another ” (John 13:35)