Sunday, July 17, 2011

Jesus Wept

Even people who have never cracked a Bible often are familiar with the shortest verse of scripture - Jesus wept.* Those two words contain something profound.

The setting is in the town of Bethany, a short distance from Jerusalem. Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, had fallen ill, and while Jesus was en route, Lazarus died. Jesus told His disciples that He would raise Lazarus from the dead. When He arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days.

Martha was the first to greet Him. She said, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." Jesus responded with one of the most beautiful verses in the New Testament. "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."

Next, Mary greeted Him. "Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled."

Mary greeted Jesus with almost the same words. But Jesus did not preach a sermon to her about resurrection. He took a different approach. When faced with her sorrow, Jesus wept.

Jesus knew that death held no power. He knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. But He also knew that His friend was in pain, and He mourned with her.

This story teaches us two things. The first is that different people need different responses. Martha needed to hear a truth about the afterlife. Mary needed someone to acknowledge and accept her emotions.

The second, and more profound, truth from this story is that God feels our pains deeply. Even though He will one day make all things right, we are entitled to our emotional responses and He feels those emotions with us. We should do likewise with those we encounter.

This is something I struggle with. When I have a problem, I usually set my emotions aside and go fix the problem. Then, since the problem has been solved, there's no need to have any negative emotions. So, when other people have problems, I try to do the same thing. I want to fix everything. This ends up offending people because they perceive me as uncaring. I do care, and I'm trying to show it by solving the problem, but sometimes people need their emotions validated before they're in a place to solve the problem.

So, the next time I'm confronted with someone who has a problem, even if I'm able to fix it, I'll remember that before solving a problem, Jesus wept.
*John 11:35. The rest of the quotes come from John 11. In the interest of not breaking up the narrative, I'm not going to footnote this one.

1 comment:

Erstwild said...

This is a very good post, and something to think about. Too many make needless, often hurtful comments when something difficult happens to others, trivializing whether they know it or not.