How does he do it? How does Jesus love people who are deeply sad, distressed?
Lazarus was dead and Jesus had come too late, Martha told him on the road outside Bethany. “Your brother will rise again,” Jesus reassured.
Jesus gave Martha hope by telling her the truth: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
We all need to know TRUTH to keep us from despair in times of tremendous sorrow.
But we’re more than brains that take in truth. We have hearts that hurt.
So, after speaking with Martha, Jesus sees her sister Mary running straight toward him on the road. He sees her fall at his feet, all puddled in grief, sobbing. Seeing Mary’s suffering, Jesus is “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.” He feels Mary’s pain and enters in. Jesus weeps.
He comforts Martha with truth.
He comforts Mary with tears.
And then he gets mad . . .
When Jesus comes to the tomb where Lazarus was placed four days prior, “Jesus is absolutely furious. He’s bellowing with rage—he is roaring.” (Tim Keller, Encounters with Jesus). Keller explains that John 11:38 contains a Greek word that means “to bellow with anger” and suggests Jesus is furious that those he loves suffer because of our sin-stained existence. Jesus stands at the tomb of his now-dead friend, seeing and feeling the full weight of grief—“the wages of sin”—and he is livid.
This was NOT God’s plan—this death, this grieving!
I love this Jesus who flows from cognitive to emotional to behavioral seamlessly. I love that Jesus validates our wild mix of human experience. I love how Jesus doesn’t stand at a distance with us. He enters into our thoughts, our feelings, our reactions and offers his truth and hope and comfort.
I want to be like Jesus to the anxiety-prone who entered my home today—this enormously gifted woman too often paralyzed by emotion. I’m praying Jesus will show me how and fill me full.
I want to be like Jesus to the scared friend who just learned her son has advanced cancer—this son, the same age as my daughter. I’m praying Jesus will show me how and fill me full.
I want to be like Jesus to my sister who just had surgery. I’m praying Jesus will show me how and fill me full.
I want to be like Jesus to my “enemies”, those where love used to flow easily until disagreement over the definition of “love” dammed the river. I’m praying Jesus will show me how and fill me full.
Because, if I want to be like Jesus, I need to let Jesus “enter in” to my thoughts, my emotions, my actions and align me with himself and his ways. There’s no other way that helps me or others.
I need to let Jesus fill my head with the truth of his word. I need to let Jesus fill my heart with the warmth of his compassion. I need to let Jesus make me mad about sin and its consequences and shake off every hint of indifference.
Help me, Jesus, tell the truth, even when it hurts. Help me, Jesus, feel what others feel and show compassion. Help me, Jesus, hate sin and its consequences in my life and in the rest of the world. Resurrect all that has died in me, Jesus! Roll away my stone, call me out, remove all that binds, and send me forth to offer you, our Living Water, to all who are so desperately thirsty.