Day 22 (Saturday, March 30, 2019)
32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”*
Jesus wept. The word wept describes a deep anguished cry of grief, the cry of heartfelt loss. Why did Jesus react this way? He knew he was going to bring Lazarus out of the tomb. I suggest he wasn’t grieving so much for the passing of his friend but for our human plight. No matter how successful we are, how good and compassionate we are, death awaits us all.
Men and women who had been created in God’s image are now broken images and broken images cannot endure the pure light of God’s perfection and glory. Jesus was grieving for what we as men and women had lost. As in Adam all die. At Lazarus’s graveside, Jesus felt the full impact of this and wept. But there is a sense in which Jesus grieved at what our loss would mean for him. It would mean that he himself would have to die. Only through his death could he conquer death and raise to life anyone who turned to him and believed in him. For as in Adam all die, wrote Paul, so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Cor. 15:22).
One of our greatest comforts when we lose a loved one and when we face the reality of our own mortality are Jesus’ words: I am the resurrection and the life. His imperative, “Lazarus, come out” foreshadowed the greatest of all days when he will say, “Unbind them, and let them go” to all who have died in him. We live with this great comfort and this great hope and it’s our privilege to share this with others.
Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us both a sacrifice for sin and also an example of godly living; give us grace so that we may always thankfully receive the immeasurable benefit of his sacrifice, and also daily endeavor to follow in the blessed steps of his most holy life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for evermore. Amen. (BCP, Easter 2)
Daily Reading Plan
Read John 11:28-57
(* Today’s selected passage is from the ESV).