A few days ago a friend of mine posed this question on Twitter:
“What one passage in the Bible do you love because it comforts your soul more than any other?”
An answer quickly arrived in my mind: John 11.
In this passage we see Jesus using the difficult event of the death of his friend, Lazarus, to demonstrate his power over life and death to all who were watching. Jesus turned this tragedy into an opportunity to teach others, in John 11:25-26, that:
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
The whole chapter is worth reading. It is a masterclass in God’s sovereignty over death, his providential use of the worst moments to accomplish his greatest purposes, and the uniqueness of Jesus as the one who offers us the hope and joy of everlasting life because he is the resurrection and the life.
All of those truths provide a balm to cracked hearts desperate for good news. There is more in this story that could be meditated on than can be covered in one blog post. So let’s consider one dimension from this passage. John 11:32-39 says:
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” 38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
Jesus could have arrived sooner and intervened in a miraculous way, but didn’t.
Jesus had the power to prevent Lazarus from dying in the first place, but didn’t.
Lazarus died, and sorrows cascaded upon an entire community for four days.
Instead of preventing sorrow, pain, and grief; Jesus providentially allowed the sorrow, pain, and grief to happen in order to accomplish his purposes.
We might be tempted to imagine the all-knowing and all-powerful Jesus walk through this scene in an emotionally statued and stoic manner. But those imaginations would be wrong.
Twice in the eight verses above mention that Jesus was deeply moved. He was so deeply moved that he wept. The God from whom all blessings flow, had tears streaming down his dusty and dirty face.
Let’s not miss this: The one who uses every single moment of every single situation to accomplish his perfect plan with meticulous care and precision wept at the death of his friend. The sovereign Lord of all the universe wept at the death of his friend. The one who holds all of creation together wept at the death of his friend.
Jesus is not only powerful enough to accomplish his every intention; he is also emotionally invested in the lives of his friends and is deeply affected by the troubles we face.
As we walk through our own struggles and sorrows, let’s not forget that Jesus is both the sovereign Lord of the universe, the Saviour of all who trust him, but that he is also our friend.
He will make everything work together for his purposes. He will also sit beside us and weep when sorrows cascade upon us.
Jesus understands the sorrows and struggles of our life, and he understands the grief involved with death and loss. He is struck by their deep pangs and pains.
He is also the resurrection and the life.
Do you believe this?
May your soul be comforted by the truth given to us in John 11: Jesus weeps, and he wins.