I always think of Lazarus when I think of John chapter 11. And whenever I think of Lazarus I think of the famous verse 35, “Jesus wept.” It points to the humanity of Jesus, and his emotions. But something different stood out to me this time. . .
The sisters sent word to Jesus, and said to Him “the one you love is sick.” Mary and Martha had to be experiencing such intense grief and sadness over losing their brother, and they had sent for Jesus to come because they had faith in Him. But He was too late. Imagine . . . your brother is dying and you send word to Jesus, and he doesn’t make it in time. Martha meets Him on the road, then she goes back to tell Mary, and Mary rushes to where Jesus is. When she sees him she falls at his feet. “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Can you imagine? Anyone who has ever felt the tension between faith and grief can relate to what she is feeling.
But here is the thing that is most profound to me. . . I always thought Jesus wept because of Lazarus. But Jesus knew all along that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, he said so before he even left (11:11). What moved him to tears was the intense sadness of Mary and the others. Jesus cried when he saw Mary and her friends weeping. He wept because he felt what they felt. He was moved so deeply with empathy that he wept as they were taking him to where the body was.
What a clear example of how Jesus connects with the frailty of humanity. We experience such intense sorrow and pain in this life; but Jesus, creator and sustainer of the universe, is moved when we hurt. Grief is different for every person, and the Christmas season is often the hardest time of year. Grief does not have to be over the loss of a loved one. Grief is what results when we lose anything of great value to us, or when something is taken from us that we can’t ever get back. Sometimes we experience an aspect of grief because we believe we have lost something and that fear takes root in our heart and begins to have control.
Our hearts may be wounded deeply, but we can look to Jesus, and we can know that He knows and deeply feels our pain.