Twenty-First Day of Lent

John 11:28-37

Think about the last time you attended a funeral. Perhaps it was the funeral of a loved one, a co-worker, or a family friend. What does it feel like to grieve? To mourn? And what is the import and significance of sharing that mourning with others?

Following the death of the beloved Lazarus, an entire community of friends and family had gathered to mourn together. The sisters of the departed, Mary and Martha, were stricken with grief, and though the Master Jesus had finally arrived at their home in Bethany, their grief did not quickly resolve or dissipate. Mary, like her sister, expressed a deep regret, perhaps even a sense of blame on Jesus: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Mary wept; the friends and family and community that had joined her wept; and Jesus, who was “greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved,” began to weep as well. Being the shortest single verse in Scripture, John 11:35 has become a point of interest in many Bible trivia games. But for so small a turn of phrase, “Jesus wept” carries with it the sum of the most profound truth to be articulated about Jesus in John’s incredible and artful Gospel account.

Jesus shows here that he is not remote or removed from the pain of grief or the agony caused by death. Jesus isn’t unmoved; he is far too engaged in the lives of those he loves for such callousness and indifference. Jesus sees and feels. He too weeps. Psalm 34:18 declares that “The Lord is near to the broken hearted,” and here at Bethany, Jesus reveals this God – the Covenant God of Israel – in flesh.

The Lebanese poet, Khalil Gibran, once wrote “You may forget the one with whom you have laughed, but never the one with whom you have wept.”

Gavin Jensen 
Holy Community Covenant Church
Winnipeg, MB