As a part of my daily “devotional” time, I have been reading a great little book called “Knowing Christ” by Mark Jones. Recently I read a short chapter entitled “Christ’s Emotions”. The author, writing on “Christ’s Tears”, took us to the grave of Lazarus in John 11 where it is recorded that “Jesus wept” (Jn 11.35). Let’s pause for a moment and consider this short statement.
Jesus wept. Why?
As he came to Bethany, he knew what he would find – he had told his disciples earlier that Lazarus had died (Jn 11.14). He knew also what he would do. He knew that he would command Lazarus to come from the tomb, and that he would obey (Jn 11.43). As the one who is the “Resurrection and the Life”, he knew that death could not hold Lazarus against his power. He knew that his heavenly Father would grant his request, because he knew his Father’s heart (Jn 11.41-42). He also knew that he would grant to Lazarus an eternal victory over death. Jones writes, “Lazarus’ death might be a temporal problem, but it was not an eternal one”.
But still Jesus wept. Why?
In the Old Testament, Isaiah prophesied about Jesus, the Servant, speaking of him as “a man of suffering, and familiar with pain: as one who “took up our pain and bore our suffering” (Is 53.2-3).
Confronted by the grief of Lazarus’s sisters and the offence of death itself, Jesus weeps with those who are weeping (Rom 12.15). It was not an act, he was truly grieved for his friend (Jn 11.33) and so he joined with the others in expressing his heartfelt grief.
Octavius Winslow, reflecting on this scene, exclaimed “The Creator of all worlds, the Author of all beings, the Upholder of the universe, raining tears of human woe and sympathy on a grave.”
What does this show us?
We do not have a God who stands at a distance, removed from our pain and suffering. We have a God who became Man, who stood alongside us, who shares our pain because what grieves us grieves him as well.
We also have a God who has comforted us abundantly in Christ. So go to him with you tears, your pains, your frustrations and aggravations. He understands. Go to God in Christ and know his comfort. Octavius Winslow again, “Here was bereavement, and the affection that soothed it. Here was death, and the Essential Life that conquered it. Here was the grace, and the Resurrection that conquered it.”
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Cor 1.3-4).
Pastor | Trinity Church Brighton
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