My motivation for penning these thoughts come from walking with several friends who have tragically lost loved ones. A father and mother who buried a beloved daughter, a friend who loses his mom, another family whose teenage son tragically passed. Seems we are all surrounded by death and pain. The writer of Hebrews tells us Jesus is the exact representation of the God the Father. So how did Jesus respond to death?
Remember the story of Jesus’ good friend Lazarus of Bethany? He was very ill; it was so severe that his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus, saying “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” When Jesus got the message He told the disciples, “This isn’t unto death but for the Glory of God, that the Son might be glorified through it.” He then delays leaving for Bethany two days later. When He arrives Lazarus has already been buried four days and the wake was already in full force. Friends and neighbors had gathered to comfort the two mourning sisters.
Martha ran to greet Jesus, “Lord if You had been here he would not have died.” Jesus tells her that Lazarus will rise again. Yet she didn’t understand the miracle was about to take place. Next scene Martha, Mary, and the mourners meet Jesus outside of the tomb. Mary falls down at His feet weeping, and says to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” The next verse says: “Jesus wept.” Everyone assumed He was weeping over Lazarus. Yet, many commentators think He was moved with compassion for Mary & Martha.
However as I meditated upon this story, I believe that He wasn’t weeping for either reason. Why? Jesus allowed the death by delaying His arrival intentionally. He knew exactly what He was going to do, raise His friend back to life. He knew in a moment these two ladies would experience more joy than they could imagine. The impossible was about to be made possible. Yet the Bible says, “Jesus wept.” Why did He weep? I believe as the Genesis chapter one God stood outside the tomb, He smelled the stench of death. He saw in the eyes of these two precious sisters, the sting and pain of death. As God, Jesus created Lazarus, and knew his frame well. He had never wanted His image bearers to know the sting, stench and suffering of death. He hates death, thats why He went to the cross, to give us life, abundant life. To reverse the curse. He now holds the keys to death and hades. Those tears outside of the Tomb, they remind me that we have a Savior who is intimately acquainted with our suffering and sorrows. Though we wait a little while longer, the day is coming when we no longer feel the sting of death.
Those Who Died in Christ
“13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18