Jesus shows up at Bethany, the home town for Lazarus, Mary, and Martha (John 11:17-37). Both Martha, and later Mary, come out and tell Jesus if he had been there, Lazarus wouldn’t have died. I love this part of the story. As we’ve been going through the book of John, everyone wants Jesus to be a political king. That is the messiah they are looking for. But here, these women get it. They know Jesus is much more than that. Martha’s statement that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God who was to come is more than a political hope. She, and her sister, see Him as one with power over everything, including death. Martha also shows a lot of intelligence in verse 24, because she speaks of the resurrection. This was a theological debate among the religious teachers of the day. It was one of the main issues that divided the Pharisees and the Sadducees. And Martha, being a woman who wasn’t expected to be up on such issues in her day, had studied and made a decision. It’s no wonder Jesus loved this family. Their faith is so strong, so vibrant, such a model for me.
Jesus’ reaction has been taught on and discussed for hundreds and hundreds of years, but I am still completely changed by it every time I read it. Jesus weeps. Not little tears. He is moved to a deep hurt and tearful pain. But why? Everyone else is sad because Lazarus is gone, and they won’t see him again. That isn’t why Jesus is sad. He knows He is going to bring him back to life. He’s known it for the past week or more. So why does Jesus cry?
I’m not sure. I think it has something to do with the fact that he loves Mary and Martha, and hates to see them in pain. Even though He is getting ready to get rid of all the pain they are feeling, He still hurts deeply for them. Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that since God is perfect, since He knows how everything ends, then He is insulated from pain. I don’t think that’s true. Jesus knows it all turns out okay by the end of the day. He knows Lazarus is coming back. He knows their pain is getting ready to disappear. He’s not hurting because of a worry of Lazarus dying later, and the sisters feeling the pain again. Heaven is waiting on Lazarus. No, Jesus is hurting because His little girls are hurting. It has nothing to do with fear, uncertainty, or worry for Jesus. He is hurting because He loves Mary and Martha and all of the others so much, that their pain penetrates His perfect heart and He weeps.
He still does today, I believe. I can’t prove it. I could be wrong. But I believe that when we hurt, God hurts with us. Remember, He has proven that He isn’t afraid of pain. I believe in His choosing to love us, He chooses to hurt with us.
If that’s true, we really are never, ever alone. No matter what happens here, there is always someone to sit with us when we are down, when we are broken, when we are lost. And He completely gets it. He sits with us IN our pain, choosing to take it on Himself 100%.
God really, truly IS love at the deepest level.