Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why Did Jesus Weep?

So the shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35. We memorized this little bit of trivia when we were kids for all the Bible games and such that we played in "church circles." It reads "Jesus wept," and when you are thinking of the perfect Son of God crying, it surely catches your attention.

So what is this all about?

The Story of Lazarus

Jesus performed a lot of miracles during his ministry. Healed the sick, walked on water, turned water into wine; calmed the storm. But a few of the more dramatic miracles he performed was when he raised people from the dead.

One of those he raised was actually a friend of Jesus, named Lazarus. You see, word had come to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, and would soon die. But instead of running to his bedside quickly to prevent his death, Jesus waited for several more days. Nobody understood why, but Jesus knew.

He wanted to show them the extent of His power. His power over death.

So when he finally did leave to go to Lazarus’ house, Lazarus had already died and was buried. And His sisters were devastated. And this is where the story picks up in the Gospel of John.

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."

23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

24 Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

27 "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."

32 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."

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 "Where have you laid him?" he asked.

"Come and see, Lord," they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

That last verse is what puzzles me the most. Jesus wept. Now think about this for a minute. Jesus knew good and well that he was about ready to perform a miracle; that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead in front of the eyes of everyone.

In fact, that’s why he waited – because he knew Lazarus would die and then he would come later and display his power by raising Him from the dead. So… why is he crying? Why is Jesus crying when in a matter of moments the situation would be different, and everybody would be rejoicing? Why does He weep?

You see I believe that Jesus understands the pain and grief that comes with the loss of someone you love, and He was identifying with that pain. He knows what it’s like. He knows the fear. The sting. The empty feeling. The shock. The grief.

So He’s a God we can take comfort in. He’s a God who can relate to us. But more than that, He’s a God who holds power over death. This is the great hope we have as Christians – that

Jesus was willing to identity with us. And the most profound way He did this while on earth was to take our place by being crucified on the cross for our sins, only to once again display power over death by being raised from the dead as well.

Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” And these are the truths that Scripture teaches us. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. If you think about it then, this guy had to die twice! Not cool. But Lazarus was not afraid to die -- for he knew who had the power over death. And so do we -- those who believe.