John 11:17-27, 38-45
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “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. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.
Human emotions are incredibly complex. The line between love and hate, fear and excitement, joy and sorrow, that line can be incredibly thin. Psychiatrist and psychologists spend years thinking about the human psyche and understanding human emotions.
And yet it even though this is something that goes far beyond people’s understanding how that works, that doesn’t mean that people have stopped trying to master emotions. Song writers have done this for years in the song construction – with each verse trying to build to the climax of emotions until ultimately the chorus moves people’s emotions. Movie writers make their screenplays so that they are love stories that pull at the heart strings, or thrillers that make the spine shiver, or dramas that lead to feelings of awe or pride.
As difficult as emotions can be to understand, they are still extremely powerful. Sometimes they are so powerful that they move people to tears, liquid emotions, you might call them. And feelings like love, fear, joy or sorrow can sometimes be behind those tears.
When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, even our Savior was moved to tears. He is the Son of God, and yet also the Son of Man. Jesus was just like you and me with family and friends – and Lazarus was one of his closest friends. There was Jesus, seeing the heartbreak of his good friend Martha, offering her words of comfort when anybody else could have offered condolences. And then we see Jesus standing outside of the tomb of Lazarus – and it was there that we see Jesus in tears – deeply moved by his emotions – the emotions of the God-man.
But there was something else that caused Jesus to cry too. Jesus was staring death in the face. Jesus had seen the effects of sin all around him as he walked in this world, but now once again he saw it rear its ugly head. Once again he was reminded that this never should have been like this.
Jesus, just faced with the effects of sin and what it had done to his friend contributed to his tears. And that’s how God still feels when he looks at sin itself and what sin has done to our world to our lives. But here’s one way where we don’t always have the same reaction as Jesus. When sin knocks on our door often open it widely instead of slamming it shut like God would want us to do. And we invite sin to come back and make its home with us, not realizing that it is this very thing that causes all this pain in our world. That it’s not because God lets it happen or doesn’t want to get involved, but it is our sin, the sin we contribute to in this world, the sin that is already here, that makes this pain, even death part of our world.
But Jesus’ tears didn’t last long because with just three words, his friend who was dead came back to life. Jesus walked up to Lazarus’s tomb asked for the stone to be rolled away even though it had been there for 4 days already. The grief that Jesus felt over losing a friend, that was gone with the words – Lazarus come out. The sadness over the fact that death was in the world – that too disappeared – as Jesus demonstrated already that he was in charge.
Jesus can dry your tears too, whatever might cause them. He has the power to do anything. He can bring peace to any trouble in life. He can calm any fear. He has the power to bring life from death. In fact Jesus said that he has already performed this miracle. Jesus has already made you alive. He has brought you from the death of unbelief to the life of faith. And because Jesus proved that death had no power, not only do you live now, but you will live forever – you will live eternally because of Jesus.
Pastor Nick Schmoller