“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” John 11:33-34
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35
“Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb.” John 11:38
John 11 tells the amazing story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. There is so much in this story that brings me comfort. Jesus dearly loved his friends Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. He was away when he heard the news that Lazarus was ill, but he didn’t rush to their home, instead very deliberately staying right where he was. He waited to go until, by Jewish beliefs, there was no hope to resuscitate Lazarus because he had been in the grave more than three days. When he does arrive he makes it very clear that he IS the resurrection and the life. He brings Lazarus back from the dead demonstrating that what he says is true – that he has the power to do just what he says he will. I love this picture of Jesus loving deeply, of Jesus in control, of God in flesh ministering to the people that he loves.
Another aspect of this story speaks volumes to my hurting heart. Jesus didn’t act as an unemotional god, completely unengaged with the reality of the people crying to him. John 11 reveals Jesus as deeply emotional. Several times the scripture points out that Jesus loved this family. Jesus weeps openly with them. In addition scripture says that he is deeply moved and troubled. There is a single Greek word that is translated ‘deeply moved’ and means “to snort with anger; to have indignation on, to blame, to sigh with chagrin, to sternly enjoin.” Commentators have various thoughts about what is going on in Jesus’ heart at these points, but agree that there is a sense of anger conveyed by this word. I will always remember a profound rage at Becky’s death. This wasn’t anger at God, but rather anger at death. I’ve solidly known from the beginning of this journey that she lives and that death has simply moved her to another phase of life. Death is a short timer doomed to die eternally upon the restoration of all things at Christ’s second coming. Death is the black hole of pain and worthy to die. The word translated ‘deeply moved’ so seems to define the anger that I felt – death is NOT the victor – this pain I know need not be! I can’t know if this emotion of mine is what Jesus felt, but I feel validated in my emotion knowing that Jesus too was moved to deep feeling at the death of his beloved friend and at the pain of this family.
We do not serve a distant, unfeeling, uncaring, manipulative God. We serve a God who sees, feels, knows the pain with which we struggle and who is the resurrection and the life! He is so worthy of our praise!!!
“The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey. . .” Exodus 3:7-8