Guest blogger and partner, Mary Ann Addington
Co-Author of When Life Comes Undone
Last night as I was getting ready to fall asleep I was listening to
John 11 from the YouVersion app (LifeChurch TV). It was one of those times when hearing it delivered in a novel way helped me to understand it in a new light.
Three things stood out in a new way: First, how intentional Jesus was in letting Lazarus die. Verse 5-6,”Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So that when he heard that he was sick, He stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” Jesus had a purpose in allowing Lazarus to die and He knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead.
Second, Jesus wept. John 11:35 is the verse all kids love to get credit for memorizing. Jesus had been confronted by Martha and then Mary for not showing up when they needed him and allowing their brother to die. Jesus is not offended by their rebuke and gently reminds Martha that He is the resurrection and the life. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’s home in Bethany was a place where Jesus could just hang out over a good meal and enjoy the human pleasure of friendship. When Jesus wept it was not for the death of a friend that he loved because he already knew that Lazarus would live again, but He wept for the pain in the hearts of his friends.
Third, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and in doing so triggered the conspiracy by the chief priests and Pharisees to kill him. It would have been a whole lot simpler to stay on the banks of the Jordan River and avoid that whole mess.
Like Martha and Mary there have been times in life when I have asked, “Why Lord? Why did I have miscarriages instead of daughters? Why did my mom have to die a long and painful death after a car accident? Why do we still live with the results of serious illness? Why do we have to live with pain? I don’t get why you allow babies to die, why people I love suffer and die; why there is so much cruelty and injustice.” We all have heard people say if God is so good why does he allow bad things to happen to good people? Why does life hurt so much some times?
In allowing evil God allowed each of us to choose to love Him and live for Him. In coming to earth and dying and rising again Jesus provided the ultimate solution for evil and the opportunity for each of us to “rise again on the last day,” as Martha said.
God could intervene in every situation and save us from them, but chose instead to provide a much bigger solution that lasts for eternity. It would have been a lot less messy for Jesus never to enter into our problem of pain and evil and to suffer and die for a problem he had nothing to do with starting. He could have stayed distant and fixed millions of painful situations without feeling the pain or effort of really getting in the mess of life with us.
Jesus wept. Not for his loss, but for our pain. When we cry out in pain, Jesus weeps with us. He fully bought into our brokenness and he walks with us through the mess of our pain. Sometimes when a prayer group I am a part of is praying for a victim of abuse or other hard situations we will ask them to ask Jesus where he was when it was happening . So far, in our experience, they can always find him and he is always weeping with them in their pain.
Jesus came to earth and got into the messy business of humans. Jesus suffered and died a messy death to provide a solution for the ultimate cause of our pain. Jesus rose again bringing the promise of our own resurrection and eternal life. Jesus wept and still weeps with us in our pain.