Every day in our world, there are events that shake us. Events that remind us of the depravity of humans, events that are simply unfair, and events that cause us to reflect inwardly about our own human failings. Mass shootings, disease, strife, rage, gossip and the like. It seems that our lives will be consumed by lament and weeping. Lament and weep, we should, but this should not consume us.
Jesus wept. – John 11:35
Jesus was fully human, so we should not be surprised that he has emotions. The context for this shortest verse in the Scriptures is that his best friend, Lazarus, had just died four days ago. Standing with Lazarus’ sisters and other mourners, Jesus wept. But there is more shocking context to this moment. Jesus had been told several days ago that Lazarus was sick. Jesus, the healer who had performed miracle after miracle, knew Lazarus was going to die. Still, he delayed getting to Lazarus’ home in Bethany. We also have the future context for this moment recorded, so we know Jesus is planning to raise Lazarus from the grave. Jesus was fully God, so we understand that his actions are intentional. His delayed arrival, and his raising of Lazarus are purposeful acts. All of this makes his emotion curious, to say the least.
Knowing the character of Jesus, we know he is not deceitful or disingenuous in any way. Therefore, this emotion is not fake or a show. He is actually mourning. In earlier teachings, Jesus had said ‘blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”. In this setting before his best friend’s grave, he is showing us the truth of his own teaching.
Even though he knows he will resurrect Lazarus momentarily, Jesus wept. Why?
Perhaps he wept because he knows Lazarus had to suffer leading up to his death and this could have been prevented. Perhaps he wept because he understands that he himself will have to go through suffering leading up to his own death, and soon. Perhaps he wept because of the hard hearts and corrupt minds around him that require lessons to be taught by difficult circumstances, and even require his death and resurrection in order to be healed. These horrible events are required in order for those of us with hard hearts and corrupt minds to come to understand the depth of God’s power and love.
Jesus wept, and so should we. We should weep because we understand the suffering of those around us. Victims of mass shootings, abuse, oppression, disease, strife, rage, gossip and circumstances that are simply unfair. We should weep because we know Jesus had to suffer leading up to his death and the guilt for this is something that none of us can deny. We should weep because of the hard hearts and corrupt minds that refuse to acknowledge the gift of eternal life that comes through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus.
But like Jesus, when we have wept, it is imperative that we go back to the work of resurrecting the dead souls in the world around us. Jesus did not get stuck at the weeping even though the earth was filled with all manner of terrible circumstances while he walked among us! He called people to life; he called people to the promise of love, joy, and peace IN the circumstances. We must share this hope as well!