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I am going to respond to this week’s question with two simple words: Jesus wept.
Jesus was anything but weak. Jesus was fully man and fully God. (If you need further explanation on this – you can ask Him when you get to heaven 🙂 ). I know many of us have heard this verse before. Today I want to examine the context of this verse to understand the necessity and purpose of our tears.
The Death of Lazarus
11 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”….
11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (John 11, NIV)
Jesus waited until Lazarus had been dead four days before he arrived to wake him from the dead. There is always purpose and layers of purpose in His actions and movements in our lives. This story is no exception. Here Jesus needed those who were watching and following to understand with certainty the fact of Lazarus’ death. “15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.” One layer here is to demonstrate the power of Christ through the Father. Interesting enough, Jesus did not doubt the power within Him to raise Lazarus from the dead. Yet, as we read further along in the passage, we see Him modeling His humanity as well – the second layer.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
Jesus wept. He felt sadness and allowed Himself to express it. That was not weakness. Those in observance attributed it to the depth of His love. Jesus allowed Himself to weep and to feel the sadness, BUT He did not stay there. He continued to move, as He was called, to fulfill the Father’s will. But nowhere in here was this seen as a sign of weakness — it was a natural emotion considering the death of His beloved friend (even knowing He was going to bring him back to life). Some commentaries say that He was grieving the lack of faith from those who followed. I think that we become scared of allowing ourselves to feel sadness or pain because we are worried that we will become stuck there. The reality is if we do not deal with our pain, it will ultimately hold us back. Nothing irritates me more than the “encouragement” that comes in the form of this statement, “Be strong” when it reinforces not showing emotion. If strength is seen as an avoidance of feeling, then I do not want any part of that. True strength comes from facing our heartaches and trials head on and dealing with what comes…like Jesus did in the days and weeks leading to the cross. He cried out to God while there, demonstrating that He felt the pain, He felt the burden of our sin, He felt the absence of the Father under the weight of our sin, AND He kept on moving and endured the cross for us and for God’s glory.
This is a longer post, but I could have easily added more, because I feel that this is a part of becoming unplugged. By truly modeling our emotions, actions and direction after the One who modeled perfection. We have become so lost in the ideals of our culture that we have forgotten the origins of how and why we were created. Continue to seek after your purpose in this life and I believe that you will find true freedom. I will leave you with this quote that I captured from a fellow therapist, “We need to feel, in order to deal, so that we can heal.” Be strong my friends and start feeling.