"Weep With Those Who Weep:" Christ, Still Our Example For Today [Part III]
As we continue to explore Christ’s powerful example regarding grief, I present:
Point #3: Despite His resolve, Christ – in the flesh – grappled with the sadness He humanly felt for having to allow Lazarus, Martha and Mary to suffer through this ordeal (i.e., Lazarus’ illness resulting in his falling asleep and Martha and Mary grieving their brother’s seeming death for two days). Evidence of this human grief is seen in John 11:32 – 35. Here, Christ is confronted by an equally conflicted Mary, who out of respect for Christ, “fell at His feet.”
Likely vacillating between anger and depression, Mary exclaimed – “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (v.32). Now, being the Son of God, Christ could have justifiably made any number of responses to Mary’s seeming accusation. Christ could have responded in a chastising tone and scolded Mary for crying and expressing such immense sorrow. He could have inquired, “So, where is your faith?”
As these are all common judgment-oriented inquiries I have had the unfortunate occasion to hear some (who self-identify as being followers of Christ) utter to the bereaved in the very wake of their grief.
Instead though, v. 33 – 35 paint a picture of agape love: “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34 and said, ‘Where have you laid him?’” After being shown where Lazarus was laid to rest in v.35, “Jesus wept.” We see that Christ responded with utter human compassion – “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled,” and “[He] wept” (v. 33, 35).
Finally, point #4… We find that Christ responded with urgency when face-to-face with Mary’s outpouring of grief. To be clear, my use of the term ‘urgency’ is not to denote fast-paced movement without careful consideration. After all, Christ took two days to arrive in Judea. Therefore, I mean to convey that Christ moved with “purposeful intent,” commanding those who also came with Mary to meet Him, to “remove the stone” sealing Lazarus’ grave (v.39). Entering the tomb, Christ prayed to His Almighty Father and then “He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus come forth;’ [and, Lazarus] the man who died came forth” (v. 43 - 44).
To re-cap, how did Christ respond to the bereaved – Martha and Mary? First,
He took a brief respite before responding, all for the sake of doing what was best for the bereaved. Second, He came to Martha and Mary and offered the ministry of His presence.
He issued reassurance to Martha first that “[her] brother [would] rise again” (v. 23); and, He could do so because of who He was – Jesus Christ, the Son of God, albeit in the flesh. I cannot help but believe that was what most helped Martha accept this reassurance, the relationship that had already been fostered between her and Christ.
Fostering a relationship can be key to what you can and cannot say to another human-being, particularly at the worst possible time in his/her life.
In regard to Mary, (whose interaction with Christ I primarily chose to highlight), Christ listened, abided with her in her great outpouring of grief and then He reassured her in like manner – projecting a compassionate, yet firm confidence that “[she] would see the glory of God” (v. 40). Third,
Finally, Christ responded through action – meeting the need of Martha and Mary. What exactly does this mean? BE SURE TO SUBSCRIBE & STAY TUNED FOR PART IV, the conclusion of the first segment of the “Weep With Those Who Weep:” Christ, Still Our Example For Today special grief series…coming to your inbox Thurs., March 4th!