This is holy ground.
My analytical mind doesn’t dare to tread here. I could ruin the whole subject. Doctrine is great, and it has its vital place, but not here. Not now.
Don’t over-analyze. Just look. Listen. Drink it in.
There were others there outside of town, where Martha first met up with Jesus. He hadn’t yet gone to the tomb.
There were people milling about on their daily errands; people who knew Lazarus, and perhaps people who did not. People with thoughts and opinions, with doubts and questions which they did not keep to themselves. There was the normal babble of life, and there was the mourning of death.
And yet, when I picture the scene, a holy hush falls on my imagination.
I’ve been to funerals and tried very hard not to cry. Trying to maintain dignity? Unwilling to get emotionally involved to that degree? I don’t know.
I’m ashamed to say that I’ve often belittled other people’s tears because, in my mind, their sorrows can’t compare with mine. Or else I fear that their pain, coupled with my own, would be too overwhelming to risk. So I keep my distance.
Shame on me. Oh, shame on me!
He knew how soon He would bring joy to replace their sorrows. Yet their sorrows still touched Him.
He knew that all of those around Him would finish their vaporous lives in no time, rendering today’s relief cruelly temporary.
He knew that his upcoming miracle would cause the Pharisees to plot against Him, and would cause Caiaphas to prophecy His sacrificial death.
He knew that His crucifixion would be more agonizing than anything Lazarus had suffered. And He knew that His physical pain would be eclipsed by a spiritual torture that no human could ever fathom.
He could easily have thrown His head back and shouted for all the world to hear, “What are you making all of this fuss about? Don’t you know how little any of this matters in the light of eternity? You wanna know what suffering is? Just listen to what I’m about to go through!”
I might have done that. At least, I would have thought it.
The Lord of Eternity felt the pain of the moment. It distilled in his eyes and spilled onto his cheeks…cheeks that would soon be slapped and plucked by cruel hands.
And this same Lord, through the Apostle Paul, tells me to weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:15).
Oh Lord, please forgive my dry cheeks!
For most of my life I hid my tears, even from my family, because I saw them as weakness. And I feared letting them fall even when I was alone, because I was afraid that opening the well of my sorrows might cause an outpouring that could never stop. If the dam broke, there would be no putting me back together again.
God has healed me of that fear, but old habits die hard. Dry cheeks still feel safer somehow.
Perhaps I could more easily let those tears spill if I remembered that I never weep alone. For surely, the One who wept for Mary and for Martha also weeps for me, and for those I encounter whose hearts are breaking.
Yes, He knows how happily it all is going to end. He rejoices in that knowledge, and nothing can take that joy from Him.
But nothing can take our pain from Him, either. He won’t allow anything to take it. He would not dream of missing an opportunity to weep with us, even though, in His divine fullness, He rejoices for us at the same time.
I’ve never dared to think of it that way before. I, who distance myself from other people’s pain, tend to imagine a God who distances Himself. Before I truly met Him, I would have accused Him of coldness. After meeting Him, I would have ruled out His tears because of the eternal optimism of His sovereignty.
But He was no less sovereignly optimistic on that day outside of Bethany…and still He wept.
His tears came from something other than fear, or hopelessness, or any of the dreadful things that Mary and Martha felt.
They came from love.
Oh Lord, give us the kind of love for others which weeps with them. Grant us the kind of love for You, and faith in You, that allows us to risk feeling other people’s pain in addition to our own, knowing that You will not allow us to be destroyed. Allow us to share our tears with those who would be helped by them, and more importantly…
Help us to show them the God who weeps for them, and yet rejoices for them too. May our tears, though genuinely sorrowful, still glisten with Your love, Your hope, Your peace, Your goodness. In the name of the One who wept that day,
This week's Monday Manna is being hosted by Joann over at An Open Book. Be sure to drop by there for her insights on this passage, and to find links for even more!