From the Pages of our hometown paper
At Home with Loretta Thomas
When a loved one dies, we naturally shed tears because we will miss him/her. Though Jesus had affection for Lazarus, he did not give way to tears because Lazarus died, rather he shed tears out of compassion for the bereaved, as indicated by the context of John’s account. (John 11:36)
When our Lord Jesus first heard that Lazarus was sick he did not rush to Lazarus’ bedside to cure him. The account says: “When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, then he actually remained two day in the place where he was.” (John 11:6) You are no doubt wondering, just as I, why did Jesus delay going to him? Well, he had a purpose in doing so. Notice what Jesus said in John 11:4. Now, can you see why Jesus waited to see Lazarus?
Let’s explain it a bit further. Death was not the “object” or end result of Lazarus’ sickness. Jesus intended to use Lazarus’ death “for the glory of God.” How? Jesus was about to perform a spectacular miracle by raising his dear friend from the grave!
In his discussion with his disciples on this occasion Jesus compared death to a sleeplike state. That is why he told them he was “journeying there to awaken Lazarus from sleep.” (John 11:11) To Jesus, raising Lazarus from the dead would be like a parent waking his child from a nap. So there was no reason for him to be pained over Lazarus’ death itself.
What, then, moved Jesus to give way to tears? Again, the context provides the answer. When Jesus met Lazarus’ sister Mary and saw her and others weeping, he ‘groaned in the spirit.’ That was why “Jesus gave way to tears.” It greatly saddened Jesus to see his beloved friends stricken with grief. (John 11: 33, 35)
This account demonstrates that Jesus has the power and ability to bring our loved ones back to life and health in the coming new world. It also helps us to appreciate that Jesus has fellow feelings for those who have lost loved ones to Adamic death. Another lesson we can learn from this account is that we should have compassion for those who are grieving over the death of their loved ones.
Jesus knew that he was going to resurrect Lazarus. Still, he gave way to tears, moved by his deep love and compassion for his friend. Likewise, our empathy may move us to “weep with people who weep.” (Romans 12:15) How appropriate, then, that Jesus set an example of showing sympathy for the bereaved by sincerely shedding tears even though he was about to raise Lazarus.
Too, what a wonderful promise from The Grand Creator… resurrecting our loved ones…Jesus demonstrated what the resurrection will mean for mankind in general…He will raise them from sleeping in death just as he did Lazarus to the possibility of an everlasting perfect life in a righteous new world! What a thrilling prospect for all who chose to live according to His way...