Sunday Services @ 9:15am & 10:45am
John 11:17-37 – Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”
Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
“It shouldn’t have happened like this.” That was the heavy conclusion reached among the inner circle of family and friends in Lazarus’ house following his burial. They all loved Lazarus, of course, and they knew that Lazarus loved Jesus. They knew that Jesus could heal – He had done it all over the countryside – for complete strangers! And Jesus and Lazarus were friends. Of course Jesus could make Him well.
But He hadn’t. Day-by-day went by with no appearance from the Lord. They had sent word. The messenger insisted He had received it. But nothing. Jesus had let them down, and now Lazarus was dead. No wonder they wept. It shouldn’t have happened this way.
When Jesus arrived, every eye was fixed on Him. He was the subject of every whispered conversation. “This man could open the eyes of the blind. Why didn’t He stop this!” Imagine how the people gossiped and complained. There was no social media in Bethany, but Jesus was trending, and everyone had a hot take.
And then Jesus walked to the tomb. Mary and Martha accompanied Him, sobbing. Their friends walked behind, crying and hurting. They stopped in front of a stone, behind which was Lazarus’ lifeless, decaying body. Jesus surveyed the entire scene, and He wept.
Different commentators will give different explanations for Jesus’ tears at this moment. Here’s mine: Jesus wept because It shouldn’t have happened like this. This moment was not part of God’s original design for the world.
Remember, Jesus was there at the beginning. John says that apart from Him, nothing was made that has been made. Jesus was in Eden, so He feels this moment – it shouldn’t have happened like this. Sin, separation, pain, betrayal, loneliness, grief, death – those are products of our fallen condition – and now Jesus stands in the midst of it, in human flesh, surrounded by people He loves, and He FEELS the affects of sin. He FEELS the reason He is here in the first place. And He weeps – for Lazarus, for Mary, for Martha, and for all of human kind. It shouldn’t have happened like this.
And then Jesus does something that changes the world forever – He commands death to release its grip. He has the tomb opened, He steps to the edge of the darkness, and He breaths life into that still space. Suddenly, and unexpectedly, there is light and life and hope and future, and the weeping turns to cheering and this time of mourning turns into a time of celebration.
And Jesus turns from that one tomb and heads to Jerusalem, where another tomb is waiting. It’s a bitter journey – one He would rather not make – but there is no choice. It has to happen like this.