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?” Jn 11:28-37
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Rom 12:15) Death is such a hard thing to deal with when it hits close to home. It is what robs life of all meaning and purpose in this world. Questions we likely would not bother with if death were not in the picture. But at the grave we begin to ask why, and what was it all about. Death is painful and it causes tears. It should.
I don’t know. I’m not one much for crying. I don’t like to do it. It’s not something that needs to be encouraged, but it doesn’t need to be discouraged either. Our culture it seems can’t help but do one or the other. Something odd though to see a guy at the funeral of a close friend, or family member and he isn’t crying. It doesn’t come off as strong, but weak.
I suppose that’s the case, a guy wants to feel macho, and so they don’t cry at such occasions, even when tears are perhaps called for. Just before I read this section to write up this morning’s post. I was having my devotions in First Samuel. Just reading it through. It was an odd five chapters. Within it, David is anointed to be king, he brags to Saul of killing Bears and Lions by hand, and then kills Goliath, but when Jonathan and him have to part ways, David weeps. I suppose that wouldn’t be mentioned if David just went around crying all the time. But even for him there was a time to weep.
There is. And when others weep, we weep with them. Just as we rejoice when they rejoice. This was the habit of Jesus. He could rejoice and celebrate with those who were happy. And then at times like this, even when he knows that Lazarus will be raised from the dead, he can weep with those who are weeping. It wasn’t an easy thing for him. Others wondered why he didn’t come sooner, he could have saved him they thought. He could have. He didn’t even need to come in order to do that. But he had to let Lazarus die, that the glory of the Father would be shown. Yet it was not an easy thing. Perhaps Jesus had even more reason to cry. He could not have looked at the situation and seen the pain in the eyes of Mary and Martha and not felt responsible for the pain, it was pain he caused, pain he allowed.
I suppose it is somewhat that way even now for God. He sees the pain we endure, he has experienced it himself, and yet he still allows it, in a manner of speaking then, even causes it. He has his reasons. Every day he allows this miserable world to remain miserable is a day of grace he has bestowed upon it. We wait for the end to come, we pray come Lord, quickly. But he delays. And he has his reasons. His reason is love. He still loves this world as decrepit and sinful as it is with all the pain and misery. He loves your neighbor as you can never fathom. He loves your neighbor and wants him to be sanctified with faith in the death and resurrection foreshadowed by Lazarus. The death and resurrection that Jesus has accomplished for your neighbor, the one dealing drugs and running with harlots till all hours on Saturday night when you are trying to rest up for Sunday services, the neighbor that has never given God a second thought. He bestows another day of grace on this world, for the sole reason that that neighbor may have grace bestowed upon him in hearing the gospel, maybe even through you. And in that you yourself get to share in the glory of God when you share the gospel with him and so God bestows another day of grace to you also, but it means yet another day that you endure this world. It means another day in which tears may shed, and the tears of Christ and the church too, because we weep when others weep. But God’s grace is shown in this sinful world, God’s grace is bestowed and then sinners repent, and when sinners repent, the angel’s rejoice, and we who rejoice with those who rejoice, well then we rejoice with angels, and the tears are forgotten.