“Jesus wept.” John 11:35
I was comforted by the story of the death of Lazarus. The story teaches us that an individual life is not important enough to stop Jesus from doing the work he’s doing. But it also teaches us that an individual life is important to the one who created that life. It’s a paradox.
As for humility and keeping perspective, Jesus carried on with his work and did not immediately drop everything to go to prevent the death of Lazarus. Lazarus was important—but not that important. A lesson here for me is to keep perspective. The world does not revolve around me. Jesus does not exist to serve me—as if he’s my servant. He loves me, but I should never expect that he exists to attend to my every whim, especially as I define my needs. He is not to center on me; I am to center on him. I’m not even to place myself as central among other people. I’m reminded of the instruction concerning humility found in Philippians. Paul instructs us:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4
So, the world does not revolve around us like it did not revolve around Lazarus.
However, our Creator loves us. While he has a much bigger picture with a fuller perspective he is still touched by pain and loss. Have you ever stopped to consider that Jesus’ delay gave time for Lazarus to die? But, he knew he could raise Lazarus from his tomb of death. It’s almost as if we think Jesus doesn’t feel the pain. He knows too much. Sure, Lazarus will die. But, I will raise him again. It’s all in a day’s work in being God.
But don’t miss that while Jesus knew he could and would raise Lazarus he still wept over his personal loss. One of the most well-known verses in the Bible is John 11:35: “Jesus wept.” The ironic thing about this scene is that weeping is often associated with the loss of control over any given situation. I cried at the loss of my wife, in part, because I knew this new reality was out of my control. I had to adjust to my loss. I grieved a loss I could not change. But, Jesus wept even though he knew he could and would reverse the loss. He wept because he saw the pain of Mary and Martha. He wept because his friend, Lazarus, had experienced death. He wept because he was fully human. That’s a captivating realization! He wept because sin was having its way in the world. Man is fallen, and the plight of humanity touched Jesus.
The story of the loss of Lazarus reminds us of the full humanity of Jesus. While he is fully God, he can sympathize with us in our humanity.
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:14-15