February 16 – Jesus Wept

Saturday, February 16, 2013

February 16 – Jesus Wept

The story of Lazarus in John 11 is one of my favorites.  Now, while it includes the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35, which reads “Jesus wept,” most people don’t know the entire background of the story.

Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha.  They lived in Bethany, near Jerusalem.  Whenever Jesus went to Jerusalem, he stayed with them in their home.  We find another story of those two sisters in Luke 10:38-42.  Jesus and his disciples had come to stay with them and while Martha was busy doing everything, Mary chose to spend time listening to Jesus.  Poor Martha complained that she wasn’t getting any help and Jesus reminded her that Mary had chosen to do the most important thing and that she was worrying over very unimportant things.  Sometimes our priorities get skewed and Martha had lost her perspective.

In the story from John 11, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that Lazarus, “the one you love” (John 11:3) was sick.  However, Jesus didn't hurry back and stayed where he was for two more days.  His disciples were worried about his return to Judea, because the Pharisees had attempted to have him stoned the last time they were there.  But, Jesus went anyway.

By the time they reached Bethany, Lazarus had been in the tomb four days.  The sisters were already greeting many guests who had come to comfort them and this time Mary stayed home when Martha met Jesus on the road.  However, Martha attempted to chastise Jesus for his inattention to their plight, saying, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21).

Jesus assured her that her brother would rise again and she agreed with Him that Lazarus would rise again at the resurrection at the last day.  But, that wasn't what Jesus meant.

Martha sent for Mary, who “got up quickly and went to him” (John 11:29).  When she saw him, she fell at his feet, weeping and she said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32).  All of the people who had come in from out of town to comfort her had followed her and they were weeping in their grief as well.  It broke Jesus’ heart and he wept, an indication of the great love he had for Lazarus, Mary and Martha.

The story ends on a positive note. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and this miracle was seen by many.

However, as amazing as the miracle was, the greatest part of the story for me is the power of Jesus’ love for his friends.  His heart was broken for Mary at her loss.  He wept because she wept.  

Oh, how He loves us.  His love for us didn't begin or end at the cross. It simply is. It always was and it always will be.  No matter what.  He loves us.  The work He did on the cross is proof positive of that amazing love.