“When Jesus saw her sobbing and the Jews with her sobbing, a deep anger welled up within him. He said, ‘Where did you put him?’
‘Master, come and see,’ they said. Now Jesus wept.
The Jews said, ‘Look how deeply he loved him.’”
In this passage, we see a different side of Jesus. He wasn’t walking on water, healing the blind and crippled, or teaching to large crowds. One of his best friends, Lazarus, had just died and been buried. How did he respond? He got angry that death had claimed his young friend’s life. Wrapping his arms around Lazarus’ sister, he bitterly cried.
I lived in the Middle East for nearly a decade during my 20s. Trust me! They don’t mourn like Westerners do. Bent over in misery, they often moan loudly. A funeral procession alternates between angry screams and weeping. There is no need to retain composure. They don’t stay stiffly seated in funeral home chairs, dabbing away the occasional tear.
Jesus was a Middle Eastern man, and something about the depth of his grief led those observing to respond, “Wow. Jesus really loved that man.”
There is something quite perfect about God’s plan that His son, Jesus, would be fully God AND fully human. As a part of God, dying on the cross, he paid the price that allows us to have access back to his Father. Now when God looks at us, he doesn’t see the darkness of our hearts, He only sees us through the lens of Jesus.
As man, Jesus became our ultimate partner in life. We no longer can stand alone in our worst hour, angrily shaking our fists at heaven and saying, “How could you do this to me? How could you ever understand the pain I am going through?” The truth is: He does.
As a man, Jesus felt rejection, deep loss, great love, wrongfully accused, physical pain, fear of death, and the joy of laughter with his 12 closest travel companions. Through his life, we can be sure of one thing: as we experience the highs and lows of human emotions, God is there with us.
When we mourn over the loss of someone we loved, He doesn’t sit on a throne, smiling, saying, “Oh good. Today I got another angel!” No, he weeps with you.
Even when we feel intense pain and loss due to the bad decisions we make in life, God stands compassionately by our side. He doesn’t smirk and says, “Serves you right! You made a bad choice, now live with the consequences!” No, His fatherly heart loves us so much that it breaks when ours break. When we ask, He forgives and then promises to walk with us through the healing process–step by little step.
The story doesn’t end there. Jesus calls Lazarus out of the grave, and he is raised from the dead. Our story, also, doesn’t end in the darkest of nights for our souls. Keep your eyes on God! Someday you, because He loves you like He loved Lazarus, will experience life emerging out of death.
Listen to this song. I could sing these lyrics all day:
By your Spirit I will rise from the ashes of defeat
The resurrected King is resurrecting me!
I dedicate this series of devotional writings to my grandfather, Roger Crowell, who passed away on March 31. He was the ultimate lover of devotional books. He had an unbreakable habit of waking up every morning and connecting with God through the writings of others.
Pa, I am glad you are now constantly in His presence.
Love, Your granddaughter — Olivia Puccini