John 11:28-37

Jesus is calling for Mary, who runs out to greet him and then falls at
his feet. All this grief moves Jesus deeply.

He wants to see Lazarus: “Where have you laid him?” (v. 34). Faced with the stone, the hard and cold reminder of the finality of death, Jesus weeps. Thomas Long is right when he writes in Accompany Them with Singing: The Christian Funeral, “Jesus does not reveal what it means to be ‘fully Christian,’ but rather what it means to be fully human.”

Jesus has the power to raise Lazarus from the dead; still, he

Jesus knows that he will perform a sign; still, he weeps.

Nothing Jesus knows or will do takes away from the grief. Yes,
Jesus loves Lazarus. But Lazarus is dead. Yes, God is with them. But
Lazarus is dead.

We must let people grieve. No one cares what we know or what
we can do in that moment of immense pain and loss. Grief is not tidy
or neat. Grief makes a mess of things no matter what power we have
or what we believe.

Mary and Martha have a literal personal relationship with Jesus.
It doesn’t mean their faith replaces their feelings. Besides, Lazarus
will die again. What comes next will be but a brief reprieve, a sign for
God’s glory. “It’s been four days,” they remind Jesus. Death is final
and his presence doesn’t take away from this. The sisters and their
neighbors are in a grief cycle. Nothing and no one can change this.

Spiritually bypassing grief by asking the bereaved to “be strong”
because it is what their loved one would have wanted or to take heart
because their loved one is “in a better place” is not modeled here.


How has death impacted your relationship with Jesus?


God, help me to accept loss and welcome grief so that I might faithfully “mourn with those who mourn” (Rom 12:15). Amen.

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