April 3, 2014 (Good Friday)
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
“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 [Lazarus] would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept.”
In the midst of this story in the gospel of John of the raising of Lazarus, Jesus wept. Why exactly would Jesus weep?
The mystery of Jesus’ weeping gets deeper when we know the beginning of the story of Lazarus: When Jesus was told that Lazarus was sick, he actually chose to stay away from Bethany for two days longer, and by then Lazarus was dead. It could be construed that Jesus actually instigated this death by his chosen absence.
The mystery of Jesus’ weeping does not make sense at the end of Lazarus’ story, as well, because Jesus fixed the problem by raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43,44).
It is possible that some folks aware of Jewish culture might think that Jesus wept at the phoniness of the mourners wailing and carrying on because it was a custom at that time actually to hire mourners.
More plausible, however, is the fact that Jesus wept when he physically saw Mary who fell at his feet weeping (John 11:33). From lack of faith in His ultimate powers, Mary poured forth her sadness: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32)
Jesus was truly weeping at Mary’s sadness, along with sadness of the friends around her. (John 11:33) He chose to enter the real pain of people, our pain. Although Jesus knew that there was nothing to cry about, He also knew that they did not have a full understanding of what He was capable of doing. Mary and her friends were just people, full of pain and confusion.
Jesus paused…sat with his friends, ministered to Mary, and wept. This brief glimpse in time shows us that the Master of the universe stops and cares about the hours, the minutes, the little seconds of our personal lives.
How should we respond to this Truth?
• We could be encouraged that Jesus Christ is right here with us. We are never alone in our pain.
• We could worship, knowing that God is intimate as well as infinite. We could kneel before Him and know that we are meant to serve Him.
• Today, however, it is Good Friday, and now is the day for weeping. It is our turn to take the time to enter into Jesus’ pain, the pain He endured as our sin bearer. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (II Cor. 6:11) We need to pause ourselves today, and remember His pain and the great price he paid for us.
Prayer of gratefulness: Thank you, dear Jesus, for paying the price for our salvation.