What does it mean for us to hear that Jesus wept? It is compelling to think of the Son of God weeping at the loss of a friend, embracing Martha and Mary in their grief. But I wonder who comforted Jesus in that moment? Jesus knows grief and loss. Not in some hypothetical way, but in a deep and personal one.
What seems to be at stake for Jesus in every encounter he has with others is his deep and personal love for the world. He invites people to follow him who seem stuck where they are. He heals the untouchable with a simple touch of compassion. He speaks a word that forgives even the worst sinners and challenges the holy people who overhear it. Even in the midst of his own suffering upon a cross he pleads, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing." Yet Jesus does know what they are doing, because in his humanity he understands our hardships and our joys so completely. Jesus offers his presence fully at every key moment of human life—he is there in the weeping at a funeral, there in the joy of the banquet, there in the surprising promise of life that comes when death appears to have the final word.
Jesus doesn't just understand us; he transforms our understanding of life and its limits. Jesus raises Lazarus, not just to teach us something or give us an object lesson on what the kingdom might be. He defies death, looking it right in the face. Out of his own pain and loss, he shouts, "Lazarus, come out!" Can we be as defiant as we care for one another?
Loving God, you know us better than we know ourselves. Our fear and pain overwhelm us at times, especially as death stares at us. Grant us the defiance to stare back at death with confidence. In your presence death runs away, knowing that you will prevail. Amen.
John 11:32-44 (NRSV)
32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.
34 He said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see."
35 Jesus began to weep.
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 have kept this man from dying?"
38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.
39 Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, already there is a stench because 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 looked upward and said, "Father, I thank you for having heard me.
42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me."
43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"
44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."