In the Gospel of John, we come across the shortest verse in the Bible – Jesus wept.
It is often cited as proof that Jesus was a real human who had real emotions or to prove that it’s okay for Christians to cry. Both those things are true. Jesus was fully human (and fully God – but don’t ask me for the details of how all that works, it’s above my pay grade) and Christians shouldn’t shy away from feeling and expressing human emotions – God created us with those emotions.
But I think this passage does something deeper, I think it shows us how to grieve, and sit with others in grief, in light of the hope of the Resurrection.
Before Jesus arrived at the town of the grieving sisters of Lazarus, He told His disciples two things, that Lazarus was dead and that He was going to bring him back to life.
When he met Lazarus’s sisters, grieving over the loss of their brother, Martha told him she believed in the resurrection of the dead on the last day. But she still grieved the loss of all of the days in-between and all the life she anticipated living without her beloved brother.
And both she and Mary wept with their community.
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled – John 11:13 RSVCE
Jesus knew that in a few short minutes, Lazarus would be raised to life. He knew all would be well and that their mourning would be turn to joy. But He still saw their mourning as significant.
It was significant enough to move and trouble Him.
And in response to their sorrow, we find the shortest verse in the Bible.
Jesus wept. – John 11:35
Jesus didn’t try to explain away their sorrow. Instead of pointing out their joy to come or offering up comfort they weren’t ready to hear, he entered into their sorrow and wept with them.
I think we need to learn from Jesus’s example and renew the practice of simply weeping with those who weep.
Too often, we quickly try to minimize or reduce pain because of the hope we have in Christ. Funerals are now called, “Celebrations of Life.” Grief is often put at bay and grievers told to remember the hope of the Resurrection. We don’t stop and enter into the grief we experience in death because of the Fall.
The hope of the Resurrection is indeed a true and wonderful hope. A hope that allows us to grieve differently than those without that hope, but not a hope that calls us not to grieve.
Jesus knew that moments after He cried, He would raise Lazarus back to life. The cries of lament would be turns to gasps of amazement and God’s glory would be displayed in a magnificent way. There would be no need for grief when that moment came.
But that moment was not yet, and Jesus saw that every moment has its season.
The time when Martha and Mary were grieving was not the time for theological explanations that minimized the messiness of emotions.
Jesus told Martha that Lazarus would live again. He proclaimed that He was the Resurrection and the Life. But then He wept with them.
Because Jesus carries our pain with Him.
He enters into our grief and models for us how to enter into the grief of others.
Even if we know the ending will be okay, Jesus shows us that it doesn’t invalidate the pain of the right now.
And shows us here the importance of weeping with those who weep.
Like Jesus, we need to be ready and willing to weep with those who are weeping. Instead of trying to minimize uncomfortable feelings or explain away the confusion that tears bring, we should weep. We should join in the messiness of grief with those around us instead of trying to distance ourselves.
Do we weep with those who weep like Jesus does?
When you hear of a tragic situation, do you weep with those who are grieving or do you first try to determine if the situation is worth your tears?
Jesus shows us here that tears, even tears that will soon be remedied by joy, are always worth entering into. Christians, when someone is grieving, we aren’t called to ask questions. Jesus shows us to weep with one another and we mimic Him, we show the love and compassion of Christ to the world.