Raw Emotion – The Raising of Lazarus from the Dead

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There is little more mystifying and moving to me as the tears Jesus shed with Mary just before he raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11. Wouldn’t you think Jesus would have had more of a chuckle rather than tears? The kind of wink, wink…you are crying now but wait and see what I have up my sleeve in just a minute, kind of moment with Mary? None of that. He shed tears. Even though he had the power. Even though he had the authority. Even though he was going to take care of it all. He still sobbed. You might think the Messiah would have pushed Mary and the mourners aside, marched up to the tomb of Lazarus and ordered him to come out and put a stop to all those tears. But first he experienced and expressed emotion at its rawest. The NIV doesn’t help us very much here, which tells us Jesus was “deeply moved in spirit” (John 11:33). In Greek this has more a sense of anger than it does sentimentality. Angry at death. Angry at what his beautiful creation had become. Angry at sin. Angry at sickness. Angry at decay. Angry at all those things that mar the image of God within us. Even though he had the answer to sin, sickness and death and had the power to redeem and restore God’s image even amongst the dead, it is mind boggling and so meaningful that he wept, broken, right there with Mary and the others.

0 Responses

  1. I agree with Tim, too. I am comforted greatly by the idea that God sees my sorrow, understands it, has immense empathy for me in my sorry. I think also, tho that indeed Jesus was “angry” at the destruction man brought upon himself, but I think also that He was frustrated that the people there, altho they had the Messiah in thier midst. The very One who could destroy death itself, they failed to believe, and to see it. I think Jesus was frustrated that altho He had performed many miracles, people followed Him where ever He went, were healed of all manor of afflictions, there still existed people who were too blind to see that He was indeed the incarnation of God among them. Why did He say he would stay away from Bethany for two days? For the Glory of His Father In Heaven.

  2. Personally, I’ll throw my vote in with Jesus as the guy who has great compassion for the hurting. So he cries WITH me. But that’s been said.

    I’m writing because once I heard it explained that Jesus is weeping for Lazarus, who is about to have to come back to this sinful, broken, and hurting world. And Jesus knows there’s something so much better on Lazarus’ side of things.

    I’m probably not putting my backing behind this interpretation, but I thought it was at least interesting…

    1. James,

      It’s an interesting thought. I don’t think I totally go along with it either but who knows. To me (influenced by N.T. Wright on this one) Jesus is setting things to right and pointing toward something better. So to say he is raising him from the dead is something to weep over doesn’t line up with Jesus mission to me. It seems more so that Jesus is showing his power over death (and eventually sin too!) and that is certainly something to not be sorrowful over. So to me, I don’t think that view probably fits with a broader view of Christology. But thanks for pointing it out. It is thought provoking.

  3. When I was a chaplain in a nursing home, I often said to grieving family members, “It is o.k. to cry. Even Jesus wept, and by His tears He has blessed our tears as well.”

  4. I find it interesting to compare how Jesus responded to Martha and then to Mary. “If you had been here my brother would not have died” they both said to him. To Martha he responded with a teaching to bring her from a place of general belief to a place of trust in Him. With Mary the difference was she fell at His feet and was weeping over her brothers death. Another place it was said of Jesus, He was moved with compassion and healed them all. Mary’s deeper relationship with Him and compassion moved Jesus’ to the place of tears and out of that compassion Jesus raised Lazarus.

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