“When Jesus therefore saw her [Mary] weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews; Behold how he loved him!” (John 11:33-36)
As I read this chapter in John this morning, the Lord directed my thoughts to something I had not noticed before. I could be wrong, of course, perhaps reading through eyes of sorrow; or maybe God simply knew this was what I needed to take away today from my reading of this well known text. One way or the other, my next thought was to share it with you, my readers, who share so much of my heart.
It was our Lord’s love for Lazarus that was uppermost in the minds of Mary and Martha when they sent for Jesus to come and heal him (v.3), and it was that same thought that made the Jews who came to mourn after his death remark when they saw Jesus weeping, “Behold how he loved him!” However, as you can see from the cited verses, it was not the news of Lazarus’ death that occasioned our Lord’s outpouring of emotion; it was the grief of his sisters and friends. It was when he saw their broken hearts that He “groaned in the spirit.” Surely, if it was His love for Lazarus that overrode everything else, He would have allowed him to remain in the presence of God. But He chose instead to restore him back to the arms of his loved ones. My mind was not focused on the raising of Lazarus from the dead, but rather, the sympathy and love of Jesus for His friends.
As I write these words, a precious niece of mine lies dying from a congenital illness that has plagued her for over forty years. She has suffered much during this time, and her frail body has little life left within it. Indeed, should she recover, it would be nearly as miraculous as the raising of Lazarus. She longs to be with her Lord, but has left the timing up to Him, choosing the will of God to the end. The comforting message that came to my soul today was not our Lord’s great love for Lazarus (which truly was great), but His sympathetic love for those who had to watch him die. Behold, how He loved them! As is so often the case when I read the life of Jesus, I even more amazed and moved by His humanity than even His Deity. I understand how He could raise Lazarus from the dead. After all, He is God. But that He, who exists from eternity to eternity, could limit Himself to a body that was able to be caught up in a moment of grief, is beyond my comprehension. To choose to identify with our feeble emotions, to be “touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” is truly love beyond measure.
When I read these blessed verses today, I was able to see in my mind’s eye as God the Father gathers our Jessica into His bosom, but at the same time, I could glimpse God the Son standing beside, weeping—weeping!—with her mother and father, sisters, and other loved ones. And I read again the words of Jesus to Martha:
“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.
Believeth thou this?” Yes!