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Jesus Didn’t Weep for Lazarus. He Wept for All of Us

At Church on Sunday, I was having a conversation with someone, and death came up. We spoke of how some people get angry with God because people we love get taken away (we feel) far too soon. In that conversation, Jesus and the Tomb was brought up. And in thinking of that conversation, as I was going about my daily routine this morning, I thought “Jesus didn’t weep for Lazarus. He wept for all of us.” And I think it’s true. The context of the situation says that Jesus wept after becoming angered in His Spirit. Angered (or troubled, based on translation) at what? Many Bible Scholars suggest He was angry at the tyranny of sin and death.

And think on it: Tyranny promises pleasure, and even, albeit temporarily, gives a little of what it promises, but, ultimately, it’s a trap that leads to death. And both sin and death are separations from God and one another. Consider Jesus’ friends, Martha and Mary. Both of them were distraught at the loss of their brother. But, as we’re reminded through the Psalms, in death there is no comfort. Jesus’ enemies are sin and death. He died, was buried, and rose again to deal with exactly those issues.

Are you mourning the loss of a loved one? Jesus wept for that. This was not the design. Sin brought death into the world. Do you hate that separation? God hates it more, because we were designed in His likeness, for communion with Him. And Jesus believed in putting a stop to it once and for all, so much, in fact, that He gave Himself up in death for it, rising on the third day, and conquering both sin and death so that, some day, there would never again be separation from God and from each other. Take heart, loved one. Jesus isn’t some far away designer watching His creation from afar. He has walked in it. He knows our frame. He is intimate, for He became one of us, and died that we might, some day, be like Him. Take comfort in Him.

John 11:1-44 (Christian Standard Bible)

Now a man was sick, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair, and it was her brother Lazarus who was sick. So the sisters sent a message to him: “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

When Jesus heard it, he said, “This sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was sick, he stayed two more days in the place where he was. Then after that, he said to the disciples, “Let’s go to Judea again.”

“Rabbi,” the disciples told him, “just now the Jews tried to stone you, and you’re going there again? ” “Aren’t there twelve hours in a day? ” Jesus answered. “If anyone walks during the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks during the night, he does stumble, because the light is not in him.” He said this, and then he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I’m on my way to wake him up.” Then the disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will get well.”

Jesus, however, was speaking about his death, but they thought he was speaking about natural sleep. So Jesus then told them plainly, “Lazarus has died. I’m glad for you that I wasn’t there so that you may believe. But let’s go to him.” Then Thomas (called “Twin”) said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go too so that we may die with him.”

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem (less than two miles away). Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother.

As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Yet even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”

“Your brother will rise again,” Jesus told her. Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? ” “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world.”

Having said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” As soon as Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Jesus had not yet come into the village but was still in the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house consoling her saw that Mary got up quickly and went out. They followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to cry there.

As soon as Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and told him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died! ” When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled. “Where have you put him? ” he asked. “Lord,” they told him, “come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him! ” But some of them said, “Couldn’t he who opened the blind man’s eyes also have kept this man from dying? ”

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. “Remove the stone,” Jesus said. Martha, the dead man’s sister, told him, “Lord, there is already a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God? ”

So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you heard me. I know that you always hear me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so that they may believe you sent me.” After he said this, he shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unwrap him and let him go.”

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