The Weeping

Looking at a story of grief, weeping, and ultimately hope this morning.

The story of Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha, one of Jesus’ dearest friends.  Lazarus fell ill, so his sisters sent to Jesus saying “So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”” John 11:3 ESV.  Jesus got the message that Lazarus was ill, and the story tells us “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” John 11:5-6 ESV.  Which seems kind of odd, shouldn’t he have left immediately?   But Jesus had his own plans for this sickness of his friends, which only he understood.   “But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”” John 11:4 ESV

So Jesus took his own sweet time.  Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.  He had waited where he was for two extra days, waited so long that by the time he shows up, his friend Lazarus had been dead four days.  But I do have to say, it may not have mattered how quickly Jesus had left to come to Lazarus, he may have been too late anyway.  But either way, by the time Jesus show up, Lazarus has been dead four days, and his sisters are none too happy or impressed with Jesus because of it.  So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died….”    Mary also says, …“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Which brings us to the shortest verse in the Bible.  Jesus doesn’t justify himself, he doesn’t give all the reasons why he hadn’t come, he doesn’t tell Mary and Martha why Lazarus had to die, he doesn’t try to cheer them up and tell them everything is going to be ok, he doesn’t tell them how this is all part of God’s good plan.  No, here it tells us 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.    Next it tells what Jesus reaction was – Jesus wept.   He doesn’t explain, justify, or minimize their loss.  He doesn’t try to “cheer them up”, doesn’t try to get them to pretend they have not lost their brother.  Their brother was dead, laid in the tomb four days.   They had suffered loss, they were grieving, so Jesus wept, he joins them in their grief.   If you are hurting right now, if you are grieving, if you are weeping, Jesus weeps with you.

Maybe the apostle Paul was familiar with this story when he told the believers in Rome “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15 ESV.  Just weep with those who weep, as Jesus wept with Mary and Martha.  Share their burden, don’t deny their pain.

Of course, this is not the end of Lazarus’ story.  It won’t be the end of your story either.  Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 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.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 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.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 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.”   It’s in this darkest hour that we see our greatest hope.   It’s our great Christian hope, the true hope of Christ.  Resurrection.

Just as Jesus called out to Mary and Marthas brother “Lazarus, come out.”, he will call to each one of us.  That is my hope, that is what my true faith is.  Each one of us will hear “John, come out!”, “Marc, come out!”, “Rob, come out!”, “Susie, come out!

Jesus told Martha “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  Do we believe this?  We have a great hope in Christ, that just as he was raised from the dead, we too will be raised from the dead.  “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Romans 6:4-5 ESV.   And as Paul also so well puts it, “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” 1 Corinthians 15:12 ESV

So we believe, we trust, we have faith in that which we can not see.  But for now, we weep.  And Jesus weeps with us.

“Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 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.” 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. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 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.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 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.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 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.””

John 11:17-44 ESV

http://bible.com/59/jhn.11.17-44.esv

John Lewis

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