Lazarus was gravely ill when Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus. Upon being informed of His friend’s condition, Jesus makes a statement of certainty saying, “Lazarus will not die from this sickness, but through it God will be glorified so that the Son of God may be glorified.” Jesus then does a very strange, and possibly in the eyes of many, a very cruel thing. He stayed where He was for two more days. He didn’t rush to the aid of Lazarus nor to comfort his family and friends. Jesus kept still.
After the purposed delay Jesus announces that it is time to travel to Judea where Lazarus is entombed. His disciples’ think He has lost His mind and comment that the Jews (i.e. the religious leaders) wanted to stone Him just a few days earlier. Jesus tells them that friend Lazarus has fallen asleep and that He is going to wake him up. He didn’t seem to be worried about what men could do to Him. Confused about the comment that Lazarus was sleeping, the disciples said, “Lord if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Then Jesus spoke the bold and plain truth, “Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe.” That must have really torn it with His followers. Egos were surely offended.
Upon His arrival Martha runs to Jesus saying, “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus replies, “Your brother will rise again.” When Mary came to Jesus she was not just crying, she was wailing, saying to Him also, “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus therefore saw her weeping and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit, and was troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.
Why? Jesus had said earlier that He was glad for the disciples’ sake that He hadn’t been there to heal Lazarus. He told the whole family of Lazarus that He was about to raise him from the dead, so why would He have been crying? The Jews were saying, “Behold how He loved him!” Others were saying, “Could not this man who opened the eyes of him who was blind, have kept this man also from dying?”
Was Jesus weeping because his friend was dead? The fact was that He was about to shock Lazarus’ entire family, all the friends and bystanders and the whole world by raising him from the dead. Something that had never been seen or heard of before and something that would most certainly bring great glory to God. So why was Jesus broken hearted to the point of tears at the death of Lazarus? He wasn’t!
The heart and soul of Jesus was ripped apart, not because His dear friend was dead, but because the living, who had intimately known Him and witnessed all His works of power still doubted. Jesus’ followers, his closest friends whom He considered family, did not have enough faith in Him to simply believe. The scourging Jesus endured; the crown of thorns rammed into His precious brow, and the spikes that pierced His hands and feet could not have been as agonizing to Him as the heart rending lack of faith that was displayed on that day.
Chest heaving; eyes blood red with tears in agonizing spirit Jesus whispers, “Remove the stone.” The sword of doubt was thrust even deeper as Martha utters, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” As if almost begging to be trusted Jesus pleas, “Did I not say to you, if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
Then, with strength that is not of this world, Jesus cries out with a loud voice, “LAZARUS, COME FORTH!” Out of cold, damp darkness and into the Light of the Son, walked Lazarus still wrapped in grave clothes, but never more alive than at that very moment as Jesus cries, “Unbind him, and let him go!”
So it was then, and so it is today. Jesus wept.
Written February 27, 2008