[This is the third of four installments about Jesus raising Lazarus.]
Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?”
– John 11:30-37 NASB
Mary, along with her sister Martha and brother Lazarus, had known Jesus for some time. Therefore, she was familiar with the works of healing that accompanied His teaching ministry. She’d probably seen Him open blind eyes and deaf ears. So, it was natural for her to think that had Jesus gotten to Lazarus before he died, Jesus would have healed him of his sickness. At this point, she doesn’t show any sign that she expected Jesus to raise her brother from the dead so it appears she is expressing disappointment.
You can see that some of the bystanders likewise thought Jesus could have – and should have – kept Lazarus from dying. Even today, we think God could have – should have – done this or that in our experience. It’s not a productive way of thinking.
In the midst of this second-guessing, Jesus weeps. Why, exactly, was He weeping? I don’t have a simple answer to that question. I can say, however, that His weeping vividly demonstrates His humanity. In the swirl of friends expressing disappointment in Him and strangers judging Him as culpable in the death of a friend, one can appreciate that frustration may have overwhelmed even a man as mature and strong as Jesus.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, we know You can appreciate the frustrations that come upon us in life. I want to reflect for a moment on how You experienced life as we do…(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.