"Weep With Those Who Weep:" Christ, Still Our Example For Today [Part II]
On last week, I shared:
When it comes to grief, the bereaved may rejoice one moment and in the very next moment weep. / The question I left you with was, “Why?”
The spirit aspect of one’s being may certainly rejoice over their loved one’s peaceful rest in death and rejoice over his/her release from the pain or cares of this life. Yet, the fleshly – aspect of the human nature experiences an overwhelming sadness, due to the finality of the divide between them in this physical world and their loved one existing in his/her new spiritual body in the life hereafter. It is a divide impossible to transverse (per Luke 16:19 – 31). In fact, we even see this complexity of loss – (the conflicting desire to rejoice yet the reality of sadness) – exhibited by Jesus Christ when his friend Lazarus dies.
In John 11: 1 – 46, the entire heart-wrenching scene is recounted – beginning with the sad news of Lazarus’ seemingly terminal illness being delivered to Jesus (in v. 1 – 3). Through analysis of this passage, I’ll highlight the complexity of loss exhibited by the only Son of God come to earth – to live in a fleshly human form -- that he might fully understand our human weaknesses, yet still present an unerring example (Hebrews 5:15). For Christians – literally translated to mean followers of Christ – we are called to follow His example and teachings concerning everything. John 11:1 – 46 then, in conjunction with Romans 12:15, sets a powerful example for our behavior in attending to the bereaved.
In regard to John 11, verse 5 of the text clearly affirms Christ’s tender feelings of love for Martha, Mary and Lazarus.
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
Despite this strong bond of love, Christ decides to wait two more days before returning to Judea to be with the (now) bereaved. While on the surface Christ’s response to the news of Lazarus’ illness may appear cavalier, Jesus demonstrates the complexity of human loss in this text. As Christ even mentions ‘rejoicing’ when he says, “Lazarus is dead and, I am glad for your sakes that I am not there…” (v. 14 – 15). For,
Jesus rejoices in what will come from Lazarus’ seeming death, although he loves Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary – and knows they are heartbroken.
Nonetheless, Christ had to let Lazarus “fall asleep” so that He could perform what was arguably the most awe-inspiring of His miracles. This was necessary so that all on-lookers (including his disciples) might believe He was whom He professed to be – the Son of God, “the resurrection and the life,” and so that “God might be glorified” (v. 4, 25).
Furthermore, as I sit here typing – fully aware of my own father’s steady progression through late-stage neurodegeneration – I would also propose that, despite the consistent ache in my heart even now, the beauty of my own anticipatory grief journey is that I am drawing closer to the Son of God.
My belief & faith in the truth that He cares for me is being strengthened (I Peter 5:7). The certain good which is coming from my grief is that I am being spiritually strengthened; and, my capacity to persevere, to exercise self-control and to love like Christ is being strengthened.
STAY TUNED FOR PART III of the “Weep With Those Who Weep:” Christ, Still Our Example for Today -special grief series…coming to your inbox Thurs., Feb. 18th!