Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Smallest One

John 11:35 is perhaps the most beloved verse among students of scripture memorization. Why? Its the smallest one. "Jesus wept" is all it says.

This verse rests in the middle of the well known story about Lazarus & his two sisters, Mary & Martha. It starts off in Chapter 11, verse 1. We discover straightaway that Lazarus was ill, he lived in Bethany & he had two sisters. We also know Jesus must've had more than a passing friendship with these people because his sisters sent word to Jesus saying "The one You love is sick" (11:3). Again in 11:5, we're told plainly that Jesus loved Martha & her sister & Lazarus. However, Jesus' response to the news was strange. He didn't pick up & leave right away- instead, He stayed right where He was. I have to wonder, was it hard for Him at all, knowing His dear friend was sick? Or did He have peace because He knew Lazarus would rise from the dead at His command? He seemed to imply whatever transpired had already been planned for God's glory (11:4).

We don't know how long it took for Jesus to get to Bethany, but Lazarus had been in the tomb for 4 days already. Imagine how his sisters reacted when they saw Jesus- perhaps they bore the burden of inconsolable despiar- if only Jesus had come sooner! Martha said this very thing to Jesus in 11:25- "If You had been here, my brother would not have died." But she also said "I know that EVEN NOW God will give You whatever You ask". She had to have some faith to be able to say that.

Mary came along a short time later, falling at Jesus' feet & repeating the lament of Martha, "If you had been here..." She was weeping & a crowd of mourners had followed her. Its at this point we see Jesus breaking down. He weeps too when they show Him where Lazarus was laid. Why would Jesus weep if He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead? Why would He weep if He knew this miracle would bring God glory? Jesus wept because He saw the pain of Mary, of the people nearby. This man Lazarus was His friend. And these were the people who knew Lazarus & loved him too. Yes, Jesus was going to perform a miracle. Yes, God would be glorified. Yes, people would become disciples because of this & yes, Lazarus would come out of that tomb & live a full life. But it seems Jesus was trying to tell us that the moment mattered- the pain of loss, the pain of watching people suffer was just as important to Him as the eternal things that were about to take place.

I guess I was just struck with the thought that I don't have to be stoic & try to negate my "pain"- I don't have to try & sugar coat my trials with spirituality... Jesus has the timing all worked out. He cares & wants to see where I've laid my "Lazarus". He wants me to know He's with me, He knows what I'm experiencing & He feels for me, with me... But He also wants to wipe away my tears, roll away the stone & say- "Lazarus! Come out!"

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