This verse found in John 11:35 is the most poignant sentence ever written. Two words, expressing one idea, boiled down to the simplest of words. A poem contained in a subject and a verb. The implications massive. To understand the implications one needs to understand the context. Ponder the one who weeps and the reason for the tears on his face.
Jesus has just found out that his good friend Lazarus, brother to Mary and Martha, has died. Four days Lazarus has lay dead. Jesus comes to the tomb beckoned by Mary and Martha, who are grieved by death and shaken by the lost opportunity of Jesus’s presence. “If only he had been here”, they think, “things could have been different.” And there surronded by death and sorrow, Jesus weeps.
Here we have Jesus, the God-Man. Fully God and Fully Man. Here is the direct reflection of God. The second person of the Trinity. The Logos, who was with God in the beginning and is God. The one whom all things were made through, the light of life. And here God stands before a friend of his who is now dead. The one that made Lazarus, the one that holds all creation together by his existence, even Lazarus, stands before a tomb. The only one that can, and will, raise this dead man to life, stands and acts. He weeps. The Powerful stands before a problem He can solve and is brought to tears. There is no other way to put it; God cries. But why does God weep?
In minutes Lazarus will walk out of that tomb alive leaving behind him the stench of death. In minutes, Jesus Christ’s power will be revealed. In minutes, many would believe that the I AM of the Torah, is the I AM standing before them. So why does He weep? Theatrics for the crowd? No, that would be pretentious. Is it because He knew this miracle would set in motion His own crucifixion on the cross? I am sure He knew the ramifications, but that isn’t why he cries. The God-Man that set his face like flint towards Golgotha, who had a legion of angels at the ready, and flattened his captors with the words from His mouth, isn’t worried by the gossip of the power brokers.
He weeps because He was relating to the pain around Him. He was relating to our pain. The Good Shepherd was feeling the pain of the sheep. The Eternal Son of God felt the brokenness of sin. It’s not the sin that we commit against God (although their is much of that to weep about). This was not a father weeping at the dysfunction of his bickering children. This is God sorrowful because sin isn’t just something we do to one another. Sin has caused a brokenness in the world. Sin has caused death. Sin has caused a groaning everywhere, in all creation, that says, “Things are not as they should be.”
He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. He was about to reveal the glory of His father. He was about to turn mourning into joy. He was days away from ushering in a new kingdom. The time was close at hand that death forever more would lose its sting. Grace and hope were about to reign were there had only been law and lamentation. And yet, He takes the time to be moved to sorrow with us. On this side of eternity, the trek to God’s glory is often times lead by the tour guides of affliction and grief. For even though the Savior has come sometimes the brokenness remains.
Jesus weeps and we see a God that knows we sin, that we’ve been sinned against, and that we have to bear the brokenness of this world in faith. Jesus weeps and gone are our therapeutic notions of Him and his good news. The Gospel saves, but it is no sedative for life. We have a Savior acquainted with sorrow, full of hope and grace, and bearing with the brokenness that remains.
The Implications for Me (and maybe you in your own way)
Jesus weeps and it is a signal to us to weep as well. Jesus saves and Jesus weeps and so we have the strength to do the same. Those two words give strength to walk faithfully through this broken world. If God can be moved to sorrow over the brokenness He sees then we have the freedom to weep as He does.
Those words give hope to carry on as I work with children from hard places. Sometimes we heal the burdens by the power of the Gospel. And sometime we bear the burdens because of the power of the Gospel. It is costly to love. It is painful to love. The brokenness of another’s life comes in contact with your life. Reconciliation comes. Healing comes. Justice comes. And yet sometimes the brokenness remains.
Often times I find the Gospel calling isn’t to save, that wasn’t my job to begin with. Or I find complete healing isn’t in reach until the temporal passes away and the eternal comes. Often times the call to foster or adopt is the call to carry the brokenness of another by the grace of God. Things in your life will get broken along the way when you decide to shoulder the brokenness of another. But the Bible doesn’t tell us to “fix the burdens of one another”. It tells us to “bear one another’s burdens”. Your free time, your vision of family, your expectations, and your definitions of success all get changed under the weight of another’s burden. This too is the Gospel. Entering into someone else’s pain, not to fix it, but to help them bear it, is the Gospel as well. That’s what a weeping Savior shows us.
Sometimes the Gospel call is to allow a child’s brokenness to land on you because if it were to land on her drug addicted mom two lives would be lost. So the brokenness falls on you, and the generational cycle of addiction is broken, but maybe not healed. Sometimes the call is to allow the misplaced anger of an abused child to land on you because if not, it would be taken out inwardly and destroy that child’s life from the inside out. Sometimes the call isn’t to fix a child that has had things inside their head and heart rewired by sexual abuse, it’s to keep them from being a victim again. Sometimes the call is to absorb the hurt of an abandoned child without bitterness. Sometimes the call is to step into the role of father for a young man that has never known his own father, without being jealous of a love he freely gives to a man he has never met. Sometimes the call is to love a child like your own without distinction and help them look for their “real parents” without depression.
Our weeping Saviour teaches us that grace is revealed through salvation, justice, and reconciliation. It is also revealed in the mercy-filled, drudgery-inducing absorption of brokenness. The weeping Jesus shows us that there is grace in the empathy and there is grace in the healing. Here’s the truth about foster care and adoption: for every moment of hope and healing there are a thousand instances of burden bearing, brokenness absorbing.
So plod towards eternity. Grace filled. Bringing healing where it can be found, seeking justice where there is the power to do so, reconciling those things at odds, but never forgetting that sometimes all we can do is bear the weight of someone else’s shattered life, knowing that sometimes (far too often then we would like to admit it) some part of the brokenness remains. And we weep. Because…