In preparation for my Sunday School lesson, I have been studying the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. I teach 4th-6th graders so, by now, most of them have heard this story only about a billion times! I was almost dreading teaching it. I wasn't sure that I could make it fresh and relevant (it's the Word of God...and I'm concerned that I can't make it fresh and relevant!).
This morning, I was reading it again. John 11. I was thinking of the passage in light of the other lessons we have had this month (we have been looking at Jesus' miracles in an effort to grow our faith in him). We began with His turning the water into wine at the wedding banquet. Only his mother, his disciples, and a few servants were even aware the miracle was taking place. He begins his ministry "behind the scenes." And, so through this first miracle, Jesus' disciples believe.
Now, here we are at Jesus' final miracle. He is no longer behind the scenes. In fact, there is a crowd of Jews who are there along with Mary and Martha and Jesus' disciples. To say the task is monumental is an extreme understatement. Here, death itself, the final enemy of humanity, is about the be successfully confronted by the One who is Himself the Resurrection and the Life. But as he is nearing this confrontation with Death, Jesus does something totally unexpected.
Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, 'Where have you laid him?' They said to him, 'Lord, come and see.' Jesus wept.
Now, this is where I wish the writer of the gospel of John could have been a woman. I realize that this would have changed the title...along with a few other things... but John gives me: Jesus wept. I WOULD LIKE A FEW MORE DETAILS, PLEASE! But, that's all I get. Jesus wept. Two little words. Two little words that had such a powerful impact on me this morning that as I read them, I stopped to do the same.
What an amazing picture. The Son of God is about to publicly defeat death foreshadowing his own triumph over death following his crucifixion; but, here, in his humanness, he is "deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled." So deeply moved that he begins to weep.
As I read those words, I pictured him weeping with me each and every time I have wept over the loss of my dad. Even knowing that through Himself, the Resurrection and the Life, my dad lives, He sees me weeping and is deeply moved in his spirit. Christ's humanity allowed him to struggle as we struggle, to feel as we feel, and to weep as we weep. Hebrews 4:15 says that we "do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses..." And, Jesus' weeping assures me that we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our grief.
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live...
There is great hope in this story that I have heard and read a billion times. I read it today as though I were hearing it for the first time. God met with me in John chapter 11. And he paused a moment to weep.